Maps To The Stars 2014 ***

David Cronenberg takes an agonized dump on his own doorstep with Maps To The Stars, a scabrous portrait of Hollywood vanity that pulls no punches. Julianne Moore plays Havana Segrand, an empty-headed but vicious actress who takes on an ambitious intern Agatha (Mia Wasikowska). Other plotlines given an equal balance involve Robert Pattinson as a limo-driver and Evan Bird as Benjie Weiss, a child-star with increasingly anti-social tendencies.  Cronenberg doesn’t spare a detail of Bruce Wagner’s abrasive script, from a tense scene of children playing with a loaded gun to the vivid sight of Moore on the toilet.  John Cusack and Olivia Williams also get some meaty drama as a self-help novelist and his wife. Maps to the Stars features some supernatural elements, but the real horror is very much in keeping with Cronenberg’s analytical view of the world as a diseased place. Carrie Fisher is among those contributing memorable vignettes, and Bird has an unnerving presence that’s right on point with the film’s otherworldly feel.


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