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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Movie Review - Maps to the Stars

Maps to the Stars (2015)
Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams, and Robert Pattinson
Directed by David Cronenberg

Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is an aging Hollywood starlet who is desperate to remain relevant by starring in a remake of one of her deceased actress mother's movies.  She's having difficulty with the notion, however, as she's currently in therapy with Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) dealing with repressed memories of her mother physically and sexually abusing her.  Stafford's family has its own issues -- his movie star tween son Benjie (Evan Bird) is just coming out of rehab for drug abuse and starring in the sequel to his mega hit with his wife Christina (Olivia Williams) negotiating a major multi-million dollar paycheck which is certainly contingent on Benjie staying sober.  Meanwhile, sullen Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) has traveled to Los Angeles from Florida and gets a job as the personal assistant to Havana, but she's hiding a secret connection to the Weiss family that may create havoc upon her return to California.

A David Cronenberg film (which essentially means that weirdness may take center stage at some point), Maps to the Stars is a darkly comic tale about Hollywood that I found surprisingly enjoyable.  Yes, it doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel in terms of its skewering of Big Name Actors and Television Psychologists, but the flick is aided by some really great performances, particularly that of Julianne Moore who embodies the role of an L.A. ditzy actress with such aplomb that you can't help but be impressed.  With John Cusack's best role in a while coupled with a solid turn from young Evan Bird, Maps to the Stars is able to really shine thanks to the acting on display.

The film does falter a bit towards the end when Agatha's secrets begin to reveal themselves and take hold of the Weiss family.  With a genuinely fantastic first two-thirds, I must say I grew a bit disappointed at the conclusion because the movie was so thoroughly enjoyable in its balance of quirky humor and depressing pathos up until that point.  Still, Maps to the Stars proves to be an intriguing film that certain connoisseurs may find appealing.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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