David Cronenberg gets soapy with a star-studded black comedy about Hollywood ghosts and their wayward children.
David Cronenberg (Canada/Germany, Gala Presentations)
Between the incest, the ghostly parents, and the mad children, Bruce Wagner’s script for Maps to the Stars seems as much an unwieldy collection of CanLit tropes as a soapy tribute to its director, body horror pioneer David Cronenberg. That gives the film an unhinged charm for anyone in on either joke—“Look,” they’ll say, “it’s the Genie Cronenberg won for Spider!”—but it won’t win many converts.
Julianne Moore leads a stacked ensemble featuring luminaries as disparate as John Cusack (weak) and Robert Pattinson (surprisingly great). She plays Havana, a Hollywood has-been hoping to snag a role in a remake of the film that made her late, sexually abusive mother, Clarice (Sarah Gadon, playing the catty phantom), famous, though the arrival of personal assistant Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a dead ringer for her mother and a burn victim like her to boot, complicates matters.
Maps to the Stars is Cronenberg’s first proper black comedy, but his rhythms are oddly syncopated, as though each punchline is being delivered underwater. That makes for a weird song, sung off-key.