Maps To The Stars: a satire with no bite

Maps to the Stars

If anything, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars made me realize what I miss about his earlier output. By now so much has been written about the Canadian auteur moving away from body horror, that it seems pointless to go down that well again. If anyone is looking for a horror filmmaker who stubbornly clings to the past, then be sure to hang out in my backyard, where legendary director George A. Romero is shooting Diary of the Dead 8.

Whatever it was, maybe it was his pitch for a remake of The Fly being rejected, the Cronenberg at work here is going after poor old Hollywood. I think? Julianne Moore’s a bratty actress struggling to get a lead role, Robert Pattinson an actor/writer moonlighting as a limousine driver, Mia Wasikowska a new arrival to the town, and John Cusack & Olivia Williams are the proud parents of a child star kicking substance abuse.

It’s a decent setup to a movie that never really takes off. The cast does its best, but the whole movie feels strangely underpopulated, and doesn’t really go anywhere. As the movie progresses we learn characters are more closely connected than we were led to believe, which leaves two other characters’ problems as quite pointless. I’m not sure what would’ve helped Maps to the Stars best: a tighter focus, or a larger cast. Why do we spend so much time with Julianne Moore if her character doesn’t matter in the end?

I miss the Cronenberg who made disturbing cinema. The story at the core of this tale lends itself to that, and I would’ve loved to see something that grabbed me even 1/10th of Dead Ringers. Instead we get Mulholland Drive, the lifeless version.

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