Maps To The Stars

Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Olivia Williams, Evan Bird, Carrie Fisher

Directed By: David Cronenberg

There are movies that are made all the time about people who are trying to move forward, but are haunted by the ghosts of their past. Instead of taking that figuratively, this movie takes this literally, and characters are actually haunted by ghosts. It’s not a scary film though, it’s just a film where people slowly unravel and see dead people.

It’ll be a while before Maps To The Stars hits theatres. It started out as a buzzy film that was rumored to get Julianne Moore an Oscar. I could definitely see her getting nominated for her work in this film. She’s absolutely batty here, and her emotions run the gauntlet as the movie progresses. Happy, Sad, Angry, Scared, Frustrated, Yelling, Crying, Sex, Repeat. Her character is all over the place in terms of expression, and that can be a great thing for an actress looking for a nomination.

Robert Pattinson’s character is too low key to mention, and Mia Wasikowska just gets shown up by Moore. I didn’t enjoy John Cusack or Olivia Williams in their roles, but I did enjoy breakout Evan Bird, who plays a delightfully foul mouthed teen sensation. Bird and Moore really are the two standouts, as they are also the two movie stars of the film, and the two haunted by their past. Moore is a fading actress, Bird is a rising actor. One has seen her share of fame, and knows how to handle the press and situations, whereas the boy is a complete douchebag to everyone he meets, having no idea how to really communicate with a real human being. He’s been rich and famous too long, and forgot how.

Two performances does not a great movie make. The movie itself constantly presents itself to you as a mystery. It’s as if Cronenberg knew he had something cool at the end, and just expected you to wait and find out what happens. People usually release little tidbits, crumbs if you will, to the audience to help keep them interested. Instead, this just seems like a rather bizarre tale of two actors, and a potentially crazy stalker. It reminded me of The Bling Ring, another Hollywood tale I wasn’t particularly fond of.

In many ways, when we aren’t focused on Moore or Bird, the film loses focus and audience interest. The strength of the film is not with Wasikowska, or whether or not she might be crazy, or if she’s totally legit and really is BFF’s with Carrie Fisher. I never cared. I wanted to see if Moore got the part, and how she’s handle playing her mom. I wanted to see if Bird had a soul, or if he could develop one.

It’s not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, and could use some tweaking before it eventually hits theatres. But no matter which Oscar race it shoots for, we should take Moore’s chances seriously. She’s brilliant here, and shows off her acting chops at her fullest extent. I can’t honestly remember the last time she was this good. The film? Not so much.

FINAL GRADE: C+

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