Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg takes on Hollywood, presented here as a nightmare realm of monstrous egos and hierarchies of cruelty. A young burn victim (Mia Wasikowska) arrives in Los Angeles, takes up with a callow limousine driver (Robert Pattinson), hires on as personal assistant to a desperate movie star in eclipse (Julianne Moore), and conspires to reenter the lives of her estranged mother (Olivia Williams), father (John Cusack), and brother (Evan Bird). The story is full of ghostly visions—most significantly the star’s dead mother, a Hollywood legend herself—and central to Cronenberg’s take on the business is his sense that our cherished silver-screen classics figure prominently in what can only be called a collective psychosis. Hollywood has been disemboweling itself since the waning days of the studio system, with such behind-the-scenes dystopias as Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Bad and the Beautiful (1951), but those movies seem like Cream of Wheat compared to Cronenberg’s wicked vision. Continue reading >>