Maps to the Stars Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird. Directed by David Cronenberg. Rated R. Available on Video on Demand.
Satirizing show business is one of the easiest and often laziest ways to score points with an audience (Birdman just won a bunch of Oscars for it), but making that satire stick is much tougher. Director David Cronenberg and screenwriter Bruce Wagner go for the jugular with Maps to the Stars, but their take on the emptiness of Hollywood is itself mostly empty, built more on shock value than real insight. Cronenberg is still best known for his unsettling horror movies, and Maps goes to some messed-up extremes in its indictment of celebrity culture. The cast, led by Julianne Moore as an aging actress and Mia Wasikowska as her mysterious assistant, throw themselves into their performances, and Maps is sometimes uncomfortably nasty. But the movie never really gets beyond nastiness, ending with grotesque scenarios that say little about the characters or their circumstances. What could have been Cronenberg’s Mulholland Drive ends up more like his Hollywood Ending.