Magazine article Variety

'Maps to the Stars' Loses Its Way

Magazine article Variety

'Maps to the Stars' Loses Its Way

Article excerpt

At a certain point in their careers, nearly all aspiring actors in Hollywood are "waiters": They wait tables, they wait for callbacks, they wait for that moment when they become famous enough that America knows them on a first-name basis, a la Arnold or Miley. Onetime wannabe Bruce Wagner did his time in that waiting zone, writing the script for "Maps to the Stars" while working as a limousine driver for the Beverly Hills Hotel. By the time his cynical satire finally makes it to the bigscreen nearly two decades later - in the hands of never-boring director David Cronenberg, no less - its time has passed, the intended toxicity diluted by the fact that nearly everyone involved was now "in."

Somehow, it's more interesting to watch dreamers struggling to play stars than it is for Oscar nominees to parody the desperate, which is pretty much what Julianne Moore is doing in a fearless performance far more gonzo than the out-of-touch satire that contains it. Like Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" before it, the film opens in France the day of its Cannes Film Festival premiere and will likely fare better there than in the States, where eOne is also releasing.

Surprisingly, the Canadian helmer has waited until this project to shoot in Los Angeles (or in the U.S. at all, for that matter), and though the film benefits from such iconic sights as the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign and palm trees aplenty, it doesn't quite capture the feel of the city. Wagner's insiders talk B.O. grosses and backend points, name-drop celebrities and do their best acting when pretending to like the idiot on the other end of any conversation, but they do so in slow-motion. After whiplash satires such as "In the Loop" and "Extras," where half the jokes blaze by on first viewing, "Maps to the Stars" fails to reflect the pace at which the town operates.

If Hollywood can claim - as MGM's publicity department once boasted - "more stars than there are in heaven," then the tight cluster depicted here form a minor constellation. Havana Segrand (Moore) descends from Hollywood royalty, the scion of classic actress Clarice Taggart, who died in a fire, yet who still turns up now and then in ghostly form (Sarah Gadon) to derail Havana's progress. Lately, the anxious C-lister has been fixated on landing the lead role in an indie remake of her mom's best-loved picture. …

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