David Cronenberg’s shockingly perverse, bracingly cynical Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars portrays Los Angeles as a combination of cesspit and snakepit, a place whose residents are uniformly depraved and venomous.
Take Julianne Moore’s fading actress Havana Segrand, dreaming of making a comeback in a remake of her dead movie icon mother’s most famous film; or Mia Wasikowska’s enigmatic burn-scarred Agatha, a seeming ingénue with a dark secret agenda.
Then there’s John Cusack’s fraudulent self-help guru Dr Stafford Weiss, his briskly businesslike wife Christina (Olivia Williams) and their son Benjie (Evan Bird), an obnoxious 13-year-old child star fresh out of rehab. Robert Pattinson’s limo-driving actor-writer wannabe is perhaps the closest the film has to a ‘normal’ person, yet even he is considering the career move of becoming a Scientologist.
The plot that ties these characters together – concocted by caustic LA novelist Bruce Wagner (who made the surreal TV series Wild Palms with Oliver Stone back in the early 1990s) – is a mix of Greek tragedy and Hollywood Babylon: horrifying, hallucinatory and deliciously compelling.
Certificate 18. Runtime 112 mins. Director David Cronenberg.