thu 19/09/2019

Cannes 2014: Maps to the Stars | reviews, news & interviews

Cannes 2014: Maps to the Stars

Cannes 2014: Maps to the Stars

Cronenberg loses his way with an ineffectual satire of the movie business

Unfortunately Julianne Moore can't meditate her way out of 'Maps to the Stars'

There is a very old joke about a Hollywood actor, waiting to hear whether he has landed a plum role in an upcoming production, who gets a call from his agent. "I’ve got some bad news for you," says the agent. "Your mother has just died." "Oh, thank goodness!" says the actor. "I thought you were going to tell me I didn’t get the part." That says everything there is to know about the cutthroat world of the movie business, something that takes David Cronenberg almost two hours to say in this redundant and pointless evisceration of contemporary Hollywood.

The television soap opera plot - which someone like Almodóvar would have given a camp slant to make palatable - mainly focuses on an aging star bizarrely called Havana Segrand (a brave Julianne Moore) and an obnoxious 13-year-old child star (convincingly played by Evan Bird). All the characters are irredeemable psychopaths, except for the chauffer portrayed by Robert Pattinson, who starred in Cronenberg’s lumbering and verbose Cosmopolis (2012), but it’s a nothing role.

Maps to the Stars is really a bad B-film in A-film clothing. Bucket of Blood (1959), a shoestring melodrama by Roger Corman, was more effective and entertaining on the perils of seeking fame, not to mention other B-titled films like The Bad and The Beautiful and The Big Knife, wittier and sharper than Cronenberg’s blunt instrument. Bruce Wagner’s feeble script, with its unfunny, all-knowing Hollywood in-jokes, has the audacity to quote several times from Liberté, Paul Éluard’s great 1942 poem of the French Resistance, seemingly for no other reason than to give the superficial film some gravitas.

Apparently, this is the first film that the Canadian Cronenberg has shot in the USA. He needn’t have bothered because it is mostly shot flatly in interiors – plush apartments, bars and restaurants – while one of the rare exteriors is filmed under the clichéd Hollywood sign. In Maps to the Stars, Cronenberg has lost his compass.

Maps to the Stars is really a bad B-film in A-film clothing

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