Sunday, 14 August 2022

Tinseltown’s darker side in the spotlight

DIRECTOR David Cronenberg peels back the polished veneer of Hollywood to reveal a dark, violent underbelly. But is it anything we haven’t seen before?

In scriptwriter Bruce Wagner’s own words, Maps To The Stars is a “saga of a doomed actress, haunted by the spectre of her legendary mother; of a child star ruined by early celebrity, fallen prey to addiction and the hallucination of phantoms”.

Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is the self-obsessed faded star who struggles to escape the shadow of her legendary mother, who was killed in a fire while still young. She hires Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska) as her “chore whore”, when she arrives in Hollywood on a bus. Agatha, also an aspiring actress, has a conviction for criminal pyromania following an incident which left her badly burned and wearing elbow-length gloves to conceal the scars. She befriends limo driver Jerome Fontana (Robert Pattinson).

Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) is Havana’s life-coach and father to child-star and boulevard brat Benjie. In rehab at nine and a millionnaire by 13, Benjie’s rise to fame comes at a cost, leaving him spiralling into addiction.

Maps To The Stars tells us something we already know — its stars are subject to the human condition as much as we are and have the same flaws and shortcomings.

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