Generally when speaking about a Cronenberg film I wouldn’t use the words clumsy or unimaginative, but that’s the case with this film: Map to the Stars. The film feels rushed and that’s especially upsetting because in many ways I feel like this film is right in the Cronenberg wheelhouse.
Map to the Stars is about a girl (Mia Wasikowska) who arrives in Hollywood from Florida and she is essentially a drifter. Through a weird pen pal/social media friendship with Carrie Fisher (played by Carrie Fisher) she becomes the public assistant of a famous actress played by Julianne Moore. This is the basic setup of the film, although there are several other threads throughout the film the best and worst of which involve newcomer Evan Bird.
Julianne Moore won the Oscar this year, but not for this film, and earlier in the year had won best actress for this film at Cannes, which is something I honestly can’t disagree with. She’s outstanding at playing stupid, aloof and vapid while also not being annoying or dis-interesting. The film is about incest (a comment on Hollywood incest) which may seem strange and of course it is, but the best part it’s the incest we don’t often see. Sarah Gadon plays her dead mother which Moore often hallucinates about, the pairing is especially odd because in real life Gadon is younger. It’s more than blatantly said in the film that Gadon had raped Moore as a young girl, which I can’t think how many films have done a mother and daughter incest relationship. Gadon is fucking awesome and mysterious here (which is no surprise because Sarah Gadon is fucking awesome). Moore’s character wants to have her big break by playing the same character that her mother had played when she was young and had gotten famous by. There’s also some odd incestuous relationship between Mia and Evan, as well as their parents played by Cusack and Olivia Williams.
All of this sounds very interesting and I love Cronenberg, but the satire somehow never works. Evan Bird’s character is such a prick, but the film doesn’t seem to believe he’s a good enough actor to understand the tone of the scene and fails him. The best bits are definitely with Moore, but with a film with so much incest/sex/hallucinations you’d have thought it’d maybe be fun or interesting or funny, but the film ultimately never gets off the ground. I loved Cosmopolis and Pattinson is back here again, but he really isn’t given much to do except be good looking and help get a bigger budget. Oh well, hopefully the next film is to the Cronenberg standard and for God’s sake please bring back the horror Cronenberg.
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