Nothing is light and airy about Maps to the Stars as the characters pop pills, commit murders and develop schizophrenia.
Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is a narcissistic, drug-addicted, washed-up celebrity who attempts to make a comeback by playing a role that was once her more famous mother’s. She’s a cruel woman, and she will do anything to get the role.
The Hollywood dream turns into a nightmare as the characters struggle with drugs, stardom and dark hallucinations (or are they hauntings?) from their pasts.
Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) is a 13-year-old movie star who has already been to rehab. Trash talking by day and haunted by night, Weiss questions if he carries the schizophrenia his sister has. His character swears profusely, back-talks elders and makes you want to punch him in the face. Rising that much emotion out of you is a sure way to say Bird does an excellent job portraying the arrogant, stereotypical kid-celebrity.
Our third character, Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska), is a recovering schizophrenic who moved to L.A. to find a job and reconnect with her family. It is later discovered that she was sent away to a mental institute for setting her family’s house on fire and nearly killing Benjie, her younger brother. She is the creepiest character, bearing burn scars, a mild voice and a blank expression that makes you wonder what she is going to do next.
The movie is well paced, but at first, one is confused at the relevance of each character. It is not revealed until about halfway through the 111 minutes how they are tied together. The score of Howard Shore does not stand out, but is not noticeable either as he delivers the right tune at the right time, but it is nothing like his work on Lord of the Rings.
It is dark, it is bleak and you leave the theatre thinking there is not much hope for humanity, at least not for the upper class.
Directed by David Cronenberg, this drama adds a new twist to an old message: Being a celebrity is not all what you see on the surface. The film watches a family tear each other apart in an attempt to withhold a dark secret from the press, and the shark pit that each character faces as they lie their way to the top only to come smashing down to rock bottom.
Maps to the Stars will keep you questioning what happens next and leave you satisfied at the unhappy ending. Not for the romantic comedy types, it will leave you with some new thoughts on Hollywood, which is apparently much darker than the surface glitz and glamour.