Throughout his career David Cronenberg has been a controversial director. Yet his controversial style has given us some great films such as The Fly and A History of Violence. Unfortunately, his over-the-top style has gotten the best of him ever since his Viggo Mortensen revival a few years back. Now all that his films end up being are obnoxious affairs where no one speaks like an actual human being and the thematic lessons of the film are hammered into the audience. Cronenberg’s latest is just another to add to that list. Maps to the Stars starts off as a unique critique of Hollywood culture until Cronenberg’s tendencies get the best of the films and it becomes an insane mess.
Maps to the Stars follows a teenage superstar (Evan Bird), an aging actress (Julianne Moore), a psychologist whose odd practices have made him famous among the Hollywood elite (John Cusack) and a young woman trying to break her way into Hollywood (Mia Wasikowska) as they have life realizations as they come into contact with each other.
While characters (especially Olivia Williams’ Cristina and Evan Bird’s Benjie) and storylines show promise in the early goings of the film, they quickly dissolve to an outrageous script that doesn’t know what it wants to be and direction from David Cronenberg that embraces his worst tendencies. The plot in this film is just absolutely absurd, and the way that it tries to out twist itself at every turn makes the biggest soap operas around today look realistic in comparison. Even worse is that the film desperately tries to come to some bigger meaning on the role of Hollywood in daily life, and just can’t thematically install that idea into the film. The dialogue on the subject just makes no sense and by the end of the film you just don’t care what the film was trying to make you question.
It also doesn’t help that the cast for this film is quite bland. The normally reliable Julianne Moore struggles with playing a character as over-the-top as hers, and John Cusack continues to be one of the most boring actors on the planet. Meanwhile, actors such as Robert Pattinson (what was the point of his limo driver character?) and Olivia Williams (who tries her hardest to come out of this unscathed) are just completely wasted.
Maps to the Stars is a gigantic mess that continues David Cronenberg’s downward trend into irrelevancy.