run time: 111 mins
director: David Cronenberg
starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson, Kiara Glasco, Sarah Gadon, Dawn Greenhalgh, Jonathan Watton, Jennifer Gibson, Gord Rand, Justin Kelly, Niamh Wilson, Clara Pasieka
movie summary: Hollywood can be considered a crazy place. It’s a place where dreams come true and hopes get shattered. Around every corner is an opportunity to become a celebrity or be a flash in the pan. Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is a Hollywood starlet and a legacy. Her mother Clarice Taggart (Sarah Gadon) was a silver screen legend who died in a fire, scarring Havana for life with images of her dead mom. In an attempt to overcome these hallucinations, Havana uses the therapeutic services of Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack). Together these two individuals have a whole closet full of emotional and psychological baggage that bring down their successful careers.
A burn victim named Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) moves to Tinseltown from Florida with the intention of finding work. She hires a personal driver, Jerome Fontana (Robert Pattinson), to take her around and to meet the iconic Carrie Fisher for lunch. Through a connection with Fisher, Agatha meets Havana who is at a crossroads of life. She just fired her personal assistant and was not cast in the bio-pic of her mother. Depressed, frustrated, and willing to do whatever it takes to land a starring role again, Havana takes Agatha under her wing. The two become close but not friends, because there is always a line in the sand between what is personal and what is business. As Agatha develops a relationship with Jerome, Havana lands her dream role thanks to someone else’s misfortunes. The two celebrate the great news which leads to Havana hiring Jerome as a personal chauffeur only to hook up with him pushing Agatha back to a place she hopes never to go again.
Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) is a child star. He has grown up on camera, demands a high salary, and is currently trying to rebound from a substance abuse problem at the age of 13. He is really cocky and expects to get any and everything he wants while on camera and in real life. His dad Stafford tries his best to balance his successful business and personal life leaving his wife Christina (Olivia Williams) to deal with Benjie. Despite becoming sober and drug free, Benji begins to hallucinate like Havana does. He begins to see a young girl that will lead to his unraveling on so many levels. No matter how many energy drinks he has, Benjie will make one fatal mistake that will cost him everything he has both professionally and personally.
Everyone involved in the story at this point is carrying some heavy baggage with some really bad demons stuffed inside. Just when things appear to be heading in the right direction for Havana, Benjie, and Agatha their past will reveal itself and lead to an unforseen series of events that no suit case or closet can hide.
my thoughts: The first thing I must say is this movie is extremely disturbing. The story, content, swearing, and violence make this a unique story that tackles a wide variety of issues rarely seen on the big screen. This amazing cast does a fantastic job to sell us a story about how messed up some people are and how that will fuel their desire to be rich and famous. The writers transitioned each story into the other flawlessly despite the graphic nature of the intertwining characters. I’ll be up front and admit I hope to never watch this movie again, even though I will recommend it to those people who drool at the story presented in this two-hour movie. The main reason I hope to never see Maps to the Stars again is because the whole time I kept asking myself why was this movie made? Sure there are characters to like and not like in this story, but at the end of the day I could have survived without ever seeing this one. It was a safe bet to say there are not many more out there who enjoyed this movie because there was only three of us watching it this past Tuesday afternoon.
Moving on to some of the characters, I have never been a fan of Julianne Moore. She’s been in a lot of movies, some good, some not so good and has won numerous awards. Never ever did I think would I say she made this movie more interesting and good. She was sexy, smart, and determined. Moore works in an extremely cut throat business and is so desperate for attention that she’s willing to go the extra mile to secure her position on the food chain. She’ll step on anyone and not bat an eye, but when those personal demons come back to haunt her, her almost bi-polar attitude will cause her from never reaching the top. I enjoyed her character because she was an emotional wreck from start to finish and who lets emotions get the best of her that lead to her demise.
On the flip side I did not like or care for Mia Wasikowska’s Agatha character. As the odd ball in the town full of pretty people, Agatha has a personal agenda here in Hollywood with a score to settle. She is a shy and reserved kind of girl who has suffered through a lot in her life but still allows herself to walked all over as a doormat. The trailer for this film leads you in a totally different directions in terms of her character’s story but brace yourself for the bombshell that will drop about half way through. It’s not who Agatha is pretending to be, it’s who Agatha really is. That storyline in itself was unpredictable and worth a watch as she watches the people around her unravel with a smile on her face.
I don’t know who Evan Bird is, but was impressed with how many swear words he could fit in a sentence. In a dose of reality for 2014, kid actors expect the world and everything in it much like his Benjie character. You often hear stories of famous people doing crazy things on the road to accommodate their luxurious lifestyles, but it clearly all starts at a young age and only spirals out of control from there.
The only other question I have about character selection and casting is Robert Pattinson. Why on earth is he in this movie? He is rarely used and besides a quick sex scene in the back of a car does he have any impact on the story or other characters. I would think someone with his abilities and name could have been attached to another project and used his time more wisely. The same could be said for John Cusack (my Hollywood look-a-like), he is a major player in the story but could have utilized a lot more. He has taken a wide variety of roles in his career and this one is no different. Dr. Stafford Weiss is a selfish money hungry business guy who doesn’t really care about anyone even when you buy his products, he’s always thinking ahead to his next best book deal or conference. The only thing amusing about his character is his ability to protect his name, his son’s name, and the secrets that will absolutely destroy their whole empire.
my final thoughts: At the end of the day I went to see Maps of the Stars because it was playing at the Cineplex I go to. I try my hardest to watch every movie (minus any Melissa McCarthy releases) and went into this with an open mind. I left wondering how something so painful and disturbing would be worth ever watching again. I would never say pay full price for this movie, but if you’re bored on a cheap day by all means go check it out and see for yourself what you can handle. You might actually enjoy the performances from a solid cast.
my star rating: 6 out 10
imdb: 6.4 out 10
rottentomatoes: 67% out 100%