Film review: Maps To The Stars (18, 112 mins)

Maps To The Stars: Julianne Moore
Maps To The Stars: Julianne Moore
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Puncturing over-inflated egos

David Cronenberg presents a relentlessly grim satire of ambition, greed and dark familial secrets in this Hollywood tale.

Scriptwriter Bruce Wagner, who crafted this lacerating portrait of Tinseltown while he was working as a limousine driver is unflinching in his depiction of how far some starlets go to extend their 15 minutes of fame... even if it means thrusting a stiletto heel into the head of a rival to clamber up the pecking order.

Precocious child stars bound for rehab and New Age healers are in Wagner’s sights as he laments the death of raw talent and the rise of the perfectly packaged commodity.

And they don’t come more lucrative than 13-year-old Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), a pre-pubescent box office prince whose upwards trajectory is carefully managed by mother Christina (Olivia Williams).

Maps To The Stars is anchored by Moore’s fearless and emotionally raw performance as a screen siren, haunted –literally – by the ghost of her more successful mother.

Wasikowska is similarly impressive as a daughter undone by the sins of her father and Pattinson continues to shove a stake through the heart of his image as a swooning teen dreamboat.

Screenwriter Wagner doesn’t always achieve smooth transitions between black comedy, drama and tragedy, and he tips the wink too early to the skeletons rattling in the Weiss family closet.

However, he does puncture over-inflated egos of the rich and supposedly fabulous with the skill of someone who has been there and almost done that.

Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Olivia Williams, Evan Bird, Sarah Gadon, Sean G Robertson, Carrie Fisher, Gord Rand. Director: David Cronenberg.