Maps to the Stars

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Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg, 2014)

David Cronenberg has been a complete bore for his last two movies, the one before this being Cosmopolis. It’s not because of a lack of his signature marks of psychological turmoil or graphic violence, those are in quite generous supply… rather, its because he’s no longer satisfied with just telling a great story. There’s a lot of phony symbolism and motif that goes on in Maps to the Stars that borders on the most pedestrian methods of conveying internal struggle that one could imagine in a narrative. The characters see ghostly visions of their past and must come to terms with them. This completely unimaginative way of showcasing the ‘demons’ of Hollywood fame and fortune coupled with Cronenberg completely forgoing his signature style for very standard ‘clean corners’ camerawork makes Maps to the Stars a pre-school puppet show rendition of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. A bright moment here is Julianne Moore, who was clearly born to play her role as Havana Segrand, a washed-up Liza Minelli-type who wants so badly to reconcile her ruined relationship with her dead mother by starring in a remake of the movie which gave her mother fame. Moore has made quite a career out of playing manic-depressive women and here she is able to really strut everything she’s got. But again, one can’t help but draw comparisons to Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive and yet again, can’t help but think how much plainer and un-affecting Havana Segrand is in moments of utter failure. The fact that she constantly sees the ghost of her mother following her around taunting her gives us a direct reasoning for her anxiety and depression. There’s no mystery with any of these characters, they all have clear motives and clear demons, leaving us to have absolutely nothing on our plate to chew for ourselves. The ending scene where Segrand is killed with her own ‘Best Actress’ trophy used as a weapon is the type of eye-rolling irony that one would think Cronenberg was better than, but guess not.

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