Freitag, 12. September 2014

Maps to the Stars

"Maps to the Stars" is kind of like and kind of not like what one would expect from a movie about celebrity, excess and the twisted cosmos by the name of Hollywood.

You know going in it'll be about how neurotic actors are and how cutthroat showbiz is, and the acidic, ruthlessly satiric script by Bruce Wagner, in which ridiculous, clearly fabricated yet frighteningly probable scenarios are concocted with a biting language hurtful, malevolent at every turn, indeed gives you that. It depicts with an almost offhand shrug the rarified lifestyle of stars in the context of therapy, drug abuse, promiscuity and an ingrained hierarchical, nepotistic survival instinct. Everybody's always pitching, gossiping, second-guessing, back-stabbing it's hilarious and also exhausting just to watch.

The tone is correspondingly dark, with the recurring themes of incest and arson revisited with disturbing frequency. Somewhat surprising is how the film goes that extra mile into supernatural territory from time to time. But, reinforcing the point that this town is haunted by its own inhumanity and paranoia, these all-out crazy interludes feel inobtrusive, even appropriate. So far- the snarky dialogue, the wacky story- it's all cruel, wicked fun.

That Canadian director David Cronenberg doesn't opt for a high-gloss, fast-paced look or beat for the film, is the true shocker. Instead, the tale about all these glamorous people trapped in far-fetched realities, moves at a deliberate, sometimes languid speed. Except for the posh furnishings, the picture looks plain, listless, conspicuously sans makeup and there's almost no music. One could argue this approach accentuates the intellectual and moral vaccum these characters live in, but some tightening, cutting and polishing would probably strengthen the effects of a perverse world subsisting on vanity and better communicate its crazed energy.

The actors are good, first and foremost Mia Wasikowska, who gets the nervous, doubtful and patient faces of an unbalanced person just right. Julianne Moore has the showiest part and she bares it all- flaccid flesh and vacant soul- to portray this deeply troubled actress passing her prime. Unhinged, self-righteous, pathologically insecure, it makes for a great, even sicker counterpart to Michael Keaton's Birdman. In limited roles, Olivia Williams, John Cusack and the reliably creepy Sarah Gadon are all well cast and complete an unflattering mosaic that's L.A..

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