Maps To The Stars - Blu-ray Review

'the tale of brattish Hollywood dynasties and the rubble of humanity they create'

The absolutely searing Maps To The Stars is a rare film, a film with enough bile to sink the good ship Hollywood and then some, as well as the chutzpah to do it. This is not the glamorous tale of California love you might be used to, rather it is the tale of brattish Hollywood dynasties and the rubble of humanity they create.

At the centre of the ensemble is Mia Wasikowska as Agatha, newly returned to the otherworldly milieu after an unspeakable incident that has left her banished from the family Weiss; John Cusack, Olivia Williams and spectacularly hateful child star Benjie (Evan Bird). Taking the job as assistant to fading beau Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), Agatha also enlists the help of limo driver/wannabe actor Jerome (Robert Pattinson), in a move which sees director David Cronenberg again casting Pattinson in a role which keeps him in a car for a large percentage of the film.

Luckily, this time, there's a lot more success than the dire Cosmopolis, with Pattinson very much in support to the faux-wide eyed Agatha, whose level of planning the director never quite lets us in to. Instead, Cronenberg's mission is to spend a good two thirds of the film examining the various neuroses of the main characters and then showing us what happens when very rich, very stupid people fail entirely to cope with them. Where we might reach for the paracetamol, Havana has a whole cupboard of solutions, ditto Dr. Stafford (Cusack), who quite coyly presents himself as a medical professional but is frequently dressed like an assassin. 'Escalation', as Gary Oldman puts it in Chris Nolan's Batman films; as per the real life Hollywood, these characters are simply us but larger, broader and with more money.

The satire and the horror of Cronenberg's film could make uncomfortable bedfellows, but actually the director makes his aims clear all along. Havana, for instance, sees visions of her younger, now deceased mother (Sarah Gadon), whose iconic role she is desperate to re-imagine in a mooted, tragedy-hit remake. Similarly, Benjie keeps on seeing the reappearance of a sick girl he has failed to give a proper level of attention to. It could not be more clear that these are characters dually inhabiting satirical and horror roles, something Cronenberg makes plain by the time the absolutely desolate black humour of the finale comes around.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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