Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, John Cusack and Julianne Moore
Review Written By: Arnaud Trouvé (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
Set in Hollywood (and while most of the shooting actually took place in director's Canada), "Maps to the Stars" follows an 18-year-old girl (Mia Wasikowska) who comes to Tinseltown to find relatives and a new way of life.
We already feel like some dark secrets revolve around her personality, her scarred face, and even her name: Agatha. On her way, she will meet an aspiring-writer-actor limo driver (Robert Pattinson), a young spoiled teen movie star (Evan Bird) surrounded by his therapist father (John Cusack) and mother-agent (Olivia Williams), and an aging film star slowly going berserk (Julianne Moore).
How these people are connected is entirely up to you to discover.
What strikes me first after viewing "Maps to the Stars" is the sheer joy and anticipation I felt throughout. The screenplay by Bruce Wagner is impeccable, in that it truly lets its characters live and breathe. Every one of them has his big scene, his doubts and twisted view of reality. This carefulness avoids the film to be overly cynical.
Cronenberg's direction is once again spot-on, sharp as a knife. No shot is wasted, and the film flows effortlessly. There is some foreshadowing rifght from the beginning of the film, through props and lines of dialogue, but you will certainly still be very surprised at how things turn out.
The film shows what mainstream cinema hides most of the time (including frontal nudity). You didn't expect less from a Cronenberg film, but that's refreshing nonetheless. I think the film strikes a perfect balance between sadness and hilarity: watching those doomed characters and their ominous fate could be very depressing, but there are scenes where the audience erupted with laughter. And the greatest thing is that it never actually happens while despising those characters, because they are well-described, human after all.
There are chances that, like myself, you were left quite cold by the two previous efforts by Mr Cronenberg: "A Dangerous Method" in 2011 and "Cosmopolis" in 2012, who were both nominated for a Movie Parliament Award for Best Screenplay. "Maps to the Stars" will arguably be a more exciting ride.
The movie title references the roadmaps indicating the stars' villas in Hollywood, and that tourists generally tend to buy. In a witty line, Pattinson's limo driver explains how they are pretty useless, and only indicates the houses of "has-been" celebrities. In a way, the film works like one of those maps, showing stars who are fading, engulfed by the ghosts of their past and their mistakes. In the process, it makes them much more relatable than we've ever seen them, and paradoxically gives them the gravitas that they so hard strive to achieve.
That's why, despite the cameos and frequent name-dropping, this is not specifically a film about Hollywood, but more about the lies we tell us, and the end of private life.
How daring that Jane Campion's Cannes Jury chose to acknowledge the brilliant performance by Julianne Moore. In my mind, she gives a supporting performance (Wasikowska being the true lead), but I agree that acting prizes should go the best performance, be it leading or supporting. She's hilarious, scary, and utterly fearless.
Movie Parliament Rating: MAJORITY GOVERNMENT
By Movie Parliament Minister of Foreign Affairs,
I think the movie trailer reveals too much, so here is a clip: