David Cronenberg, known for his challenging, bizarre, and violent films such as Naked Lunch and Eastern Promises, has put together a biting satire of Hollywood culture in his latest film, Maps to the Stars.
The dark yet glamorous tale of seduction, family ties, and the cost of stardom is driven by a stellar performance from Julianne Moore, who manages to effortlessly play an actress who puts all too much effort in maintaining her successful image in an industry that spits out the old in favor of the young.
Robert Pattinson plays an ambitious, name-dropping limo driver looking for his next break, while Mia Wasikowska deftly handles the quiet menace of Agatha, a former babysitter of a child star with a fiery secret. Strong supporting performances from John Cusack, Olivia Williams, and newcomer Evan Bird round out the mix, creating an extremely unlikeable cast of characters desperately trying to stuff their problems away in order to project the necessary image of success required by the film industry.
Maps to the Stars is a strong, but flawed movie. Its story meanders and dips near its end, and leaves the viewer with a slight unsatisfied feeling, but that is only because of how strong its opening acts are. Cronenberg expertly uses ambiguity and the power of suggestion to his advantage, throwing the viewer into the world in media res and creating just enough clues to spin a connected web of tension, mythological themes, and scathing satire of the self-promotional Hollywood culture to make this view worth it. I give the film a solid 7.5/10.