Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) just arrived in Hollywood and is chauffeured around by Jerome (Robert Pattinson). But it quickly becomes clear that it isn’t her first time in the city, even if she hasn’t been in a while. She gets a job as an assistant to ageing actress Havana (Julianne Moore) who is obsessed with her mother (Sarah Gadon), also an actress who died at a very young age. For that she is in therapy with Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) whose unconventional methods are also selling pretty well as books. Stafford’s son Benjie (Evan Bird) is a child actor himself and has just been released from rehab, despite being only 13 years old. Now he and his mother Cristina (Olivia Williams) try everything to get his career back on track. But things in Hollywood are treacherous indeed.
Maps to the Stars was an interesting look at Hollywood with a stellar cast. It does make me wonder how much of it is actually realistic (since it is touted as such an honest look at Hollywood) but pushing that aside, it is definitely a smart, engaging film.
The film’s weakest point is probably its plot. It does stretch credulity quite a lot and I felt like it would have been more effective if it had been less out there. But the characters are so strong that they make even the weirdest parts work very well. Especially Havana was a great character – I wouldn’t have minded if she had been the actual centerpiece of the film, including her relationship with her mother. There were already so many levels of fucked-up-ness there that I wouldn’t have needed anything else.
Especially because the plot surrounding Agatha and the incestuous turns it took were so crazy. I realize that it is all a metaphor for the incestuous ways of Hollywood where always the same people are involved and it feels like incest is the closest those people will ever get to loving themselves. But sometimes more is less.
It didn’t actually keep the film from working though. As I said, that is mostly due to the strong characters and the amazing performances that come with them. Only Robert Pattinson’s Jerome felt shoehorned into the entire plot. (I generally don’t get Cronenberg’s obsession with Pattinson.)
Not for one second did the film actually lose me. I was intrigued and I enjoyed watching it. It is atmospheric, interesting and looks good. Definitely a step up from Cosmopolis again.