As a subject, Hollywood loves nothing better than Hollywood, but most often in self-reverential terms. With the ridiculousness of La La Land ripe for satire, we can only assume Hollywood doesn’t go down that route too often as all those needy, neurotic actors find playing needy, neurotic actors a bit too close to the bone. So for David Cronenberg’s satirical Maps To The Stars he did the only sensible thing – call the fearless Julianne Moore.
A warts-and-all dissection of celebrity, Maps To The Stars focuses on seemingly casually interlinked characters. Julianne plays the wonderfully named Havana Segrand, a needy, neurotic actor on the wrong side of the age hill. Havana chain smokes, has massage/therapy sessions with guru Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) to work through her mother-issues and chases an ever-decreasing pool of parts. In need of a personal assistant to do all the tricky stuff she can’t manage – move pot plants, buy Tampax – she employs Agatha (Mia Wasikowska).
New in town and sporting long black leather gloves to hide scars from a house fire, Agatha is an unnerving presence. Befriending bored limo driver Jerome Fontana (Robert Pattinson), who is at pains to point out he is actually an actor and writer and thinking of converting to Scientology as a career move, she is cagey about her backstory. And with good reason.
Our final main player is Benji Weiss (Evan Bird), teenage star of a hugely successful sitcom and son of guru Dr Stafford Weiss. fresh out of rehab, Benji is spoilt, brattish and odious to everyone who has the misfortune to meet him.
Inevitably, as more about them is revealed, our cast of miscreants become increasingly intertwined and brought down by their own flaws. Mercilessly skewering the self-obsession, narcissism and selfishness of a town where one person’s personal tragedy becomes another’s career opportunity, it is satirical often to the point of viciousness. And needless to say, Julianne Moore is on predictably magnificent form. Cracking stuff. As long as you’re not an ac-tor…
UK release 26 September