Maps to the Stars review by Michelle Sommerville - Cinema Paradiso
Everyone knows the life of celebrities in Hollywood is far from normal. We definitely see this in the 2014 psychological drama film Maps to the Stars. The film contains death, destruction, and desire, and now you can check it out for yourself.
The film follows a select group of characters that function both separately, and have inter-connected experiences. The Weiss family (father, mother, son) are a Hollywood dynasty. Not only do they look after their own careers, but Stafford Weiss coaches Havana, who is slowly losing her mind as she is haunted by her mother - a former star herself. Son Benjie Weiss is a teen already with one rehab stint under his belt. It is a powder keg, and the spark has been lit by Agatha - the forgotten Weiss child. Recently released from an asylum, she has befriended Jerome, a limo driver and aspiring actor, and has reentered the crazy world of Hollywood.
There are no two ways about it: this film is weird. The characters and the messes they get themselves into is scary, and the worst part is that it was inspired by real-life events. Written by Bruce Wagner, he used events from his time as a celebrity chauffeur, and has brought them to the big screen for everyone to see.
You can’t have a Hollywood film about quasi-currently-successful actors without this specific cast. It’s hard to classify them as big names in Hollywood, but at one point, many of them were. The cast includes Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson - among others. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly a fan of any of them, but they do know their craft, and did well.
The writing was very well-planned and executed in this film. The way the characters all connected to each other (some subtle, others more obvious) was creatively done, and shows how Hollywood is more of a small town than people think.
The sets were also an important aspect to this film. It was interesting to see the contrast between these people that live their lives trapped in their own heads, and yet live in such extravagant and grandiose constructs.
Maps to the Stars has received quite positive critical and audience reviews. For the most part, the work of the cast has been applauded. The main aspect that seems to be dissuading some audience members, is that it is not the general cookie-cutter type film. It is a great choice for those that want to see something original and character-driven, but not for those that want to just sit back and engage in a clear 90-minute story.
This film is not going to be the feel-good film of the year, nor do I think it will gain much major-award attention, but it is an interesting character study.
I give this film three out of five stars, because while it was definitely interesting, it was not my style of film.