Legendary director David Cronenberg’s latest follows multiple strands in a somewhat mysterious narrative, but this is at its heart a very traditional horror film – one with its targets very deliberately aimed at that sort of delivery despite suggesting a more high brow affair, and there’s even a knowing indirect mention of critics being able to ‘get it’ when talking about something else during the film. The title is reference to the actual physical maps tourists can get their eager little hands on in L.A. if they want to take a wander around the streets looking at all the houses of the rich and famous, and indeed it also references the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (a fictitious member of which is featured above). This leads to fairly obvious satire about the lives of the celebrity elite, Julianne Moore’s neurotic and self obsessed desperate actress Havana Segrand, John Cusack and Olivia William’s life of keeping up appearances at the Weiss household despite the best efforts of their spoiled son, and all of this is fine just nothing we haven’t seen many times before, indeed Cronenberg’s last film ‘Cosmopolis’ (12) had many a similar vein running through it.
It’s the underlying cheekily dark tone permeating the film that gives it a breathing life. That, and the performances from all the cast but in particular Moore who is completely fantastic in her role of the despotic narcissus clawing at the walls of her own vanity for success, both desirous of everything her ego feels is due her but also just as eager to be devoured by the masses, a sort of ultimate metaphor for consumerism. Mia Wasikowska is the centre point for the entire story as her character, Agatha, appears in the midst of Hollywood high society and begins to affect them all, the burn marks on her face and body an almost magnetic and catalytic black mirror instilling chaos around her. Also with Robert Pattinson and Sarah Gadon in support, a creepily indulgent film that sits proudly, if perhaps not terribly prominently, within the canon of its director.