Maps to the Stars
It seems to me that Julianne Moore has dared to play a lot of basically unlikable characters in her career. I applaud that; most actors really want to be liked. I mean, even Hannibal Lecter has his good side. But Ms. Moore has really outdone herself with this one. She is by far the worst of a cast of characters with only one person I could like, even a little. And that person eventually beats Moore’s brains out, literally, with a Genie Award, the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar. (I was nominated for a Genie. Didn’t win, but I have a nice certificate!)
Mia Wasikowska arrives in Los Angeles on the bus, and soon meets Moore, who is looking for a personal assistant. Mia has burn scars on her face, and we gradually learn where they came from. Moore is desperate to land the part played by her mother in the remake of a cult film. Mom died in a house fire. Elsewhere, 15-year-old Evan Bird plays a totally insufferable, entitled, and self-involved star of a movie franchise-to-be called Bad Babysitter. No kidding, he makes Justin Bieber seem like Opie of Mayberry. They’re starting a sequel, but the producers are worried about his past drug use.
The kid has the parents from hell. Olivia Williams is the ultra stage mother, John Cusack is a pop TV psychologist. Neither of them seem to give a shit about the kid as a human being. And it turns out that Mia is the kid’s brother, exiled to a Florida schizophrenic hospital because she set the fire that burned down her parents’ house and scarred her.
David Cronenberg mixes all these nasty and damaged characters in various combinations, some of them quite kinky. Sexually, it goes pretty far, with Moore and a man and a woman naked and writhing in bed, and the only full-frontal male nudity I can recall where the man plays with himself. I was mostly fascinated, but felt a little dirty when the movie was over. I can’t really recommend it.