Maps to the Stars (2015): Eventually Stars Burn Out

Posted: May 2, 2015 in Drama
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maps_to_the_stars_ver4_xxlgHollywood stars have first-world yet complicated lives. This is not an exception for the Segrand and Weiss families, but their lives are more intertwined than they initially realize. In the Weiss family, Dr. Stafford serves as a coach and spiritual analyst, but he tries to stay centered and distant from the trauma of his family’s past. His son, Benjie, has struggled through substance abuse and now is trying to get through a film where he is competing with the child star. For Havana Segrand, her career is seemingly in its twilight, but she refuses to give into the Hollywood pressure. With a major role to play her mother on the line, she is willing to do what she needs to make it work. For both Benjie and Segrand, they may be able to find success if they can get beyond their delusional episodes and the mysterious arrival of a young burn victim, Agatha.

Review: In an odd story of the crazier side of Hollywood, David Cronenberg used self-obsession and mystery to dive into elements of mental illness. Julianne Moore (Havana) seemed to start out strong, but was eventually overshadowed by the similarly as talented Mia Wasikowska (Agatha). It was a balance of stories. For Julianne, she was able to show off her skills with scenes involving images of her mother (played by Sarah Gadon). Those moments included a loss of touch with reality and an equally eerie sense of sadness for her inability to recognize her character’s self worth. For Mia, she was able to create the image that her character was a little off, but the mystery of her back story revealed the true illness that she suffered and the pain projected through her calculated and sometimes uncontrollable deceit. Evan Bird (Benjie Weiss) was a little less engaging, although his character’s story felt unpredictably violent, particularly toward the end.

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The film had a message about the rich and famous…they struggle too. It was not the type of struggle that many feel economically or socially, but rather a more inner struggle for legitimacy in a world that demands much or lets you fade into oblivion. It was also one that was projected as under-appreciated, as each of the characters appeared blind to the wealth of worth, economy, and experience they all had. Special treatments and ignorance of the real problems that plague the human mind seem to have rotted each main character’s ability to function like a capable human being. Havana let herself get overcome by vanity and the memories of her mother, while Benjie’s jealous threatened his career before he had a chance to flourish. As for Agatha, she was the daughter that the Weiss family would have rather been happy to forget until her arrival made that impossible.

The story is a bit dark and cynical, but the performances help to make the decent an enjoyable experience.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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