Maps to the Stars
Cronenbergian insufferability in droves. 1/6.
For starters, it feels like a theatrical play, and could not be mistaken for a movie. Abhorrent credit sequences: mostly blue in color, disconnected from the rest of the movie; as if designed to look shitty. The film’s deliberate air of artificiality — the second thing you notice about the movie — is relentlessly tedious and alienating. Maybe the movie wishes to be a satire, yet it creates a world so arch, unreal, and devoid of modern lifestyle (in Tinseltown, or anywhere else), that the whole critical undertone does not apply. All this coming from David Cronenberg — the movie’s direction is wearyingly familiar — exactly what you would expect from this director. Which is not very much. The guy takes therapy and mental health issues way too seriously, and in a literary manner; he clearly isn’t aware that this film lacks any thematic importance or potential. Yet he shoots his scenes as if they had exactly that, which is pathetic to watch. Irritatingly, he doesn’t care about the look of his movies (television-ready sets, ugly and plain yet spacious houses, unglamorous showbiz types). Mostly, he revels in filming badly timed dialogue scenes, which have nothing going for them (except their unnatural length and wooden textual quality), no matter how talented the actors involved in those scenes.
Benjie (Evan Bird) was the funniest person in the movie — his lean physicality and a rare look of his face were all positively odd. His visit to a child hospital (including a request of an iPad Mini from his assistant; talking about his movie’s worldwide grosses; asking a patient about her AIDS), and his envy-tinged relation with a childishly freckled co-star were all hilarious. Lame and embarrassingly writerly scenes with him talking to his insufferable young friends on couches, playing with a gun and killing a dog. The motif of seeing dead people, by as much as three characters in the movie, was lame and out-of-sync with LA setting.
Robert Pattinson’s chauffeur appeared conventional among this cast, if not for his skittish facial expressions. Mia Wasikowska traditionally weird and watchable. It’s a pity she had to recite so risibly bad lines of dialogue (especially a ‘poetic’ monologue), and be heavily accessorized with bottles of medicine. An abysmal ending with two lying figures shot from above, unsparing in its bad writing and insistence on higher meaning. Julianne Moore’s role was out-there, and her sitting on a toilet, loudly defecating and wiping her bottom while having an intrusive conversation with an assistant, was priceless. Also, she had ridiculous-looking (and sounding) massage sessions with her therapist (John Cusack in a quasi-religious, evangelist mode). Her other notable moments: joyous dancing and singing after hearing of her rival’s personal tragedy, and her last fight with Wasikowska (concerning a blood-stained couch and the girl’s unhinged behavior in general). It would be fitting to call most of the movie’s situations as ugly.