‘Maps to the Stars’ Cannes Film Festival Press Screening: Reviews & Media Reactions   1 comment


Here are some Maps to the Stars reviews and media reactions of the top critics at the Cannes Film FestivalRE

Film 4

Maps To The Stars is a film having plenty of fun with the notion of Hollywood dynasties and the processes by which success is achieved and cemented – who knows whom, who’s seeing whom, who hates whom: all the invisible, untraceable connections that bind Hollywood together. The joke is that there is no map to these stars, and without an innate sense of direction you’ll soon be lost. Hollywood is often decried as incestuous, and this film plays that idea to the hilt, with the product of incestuous breeding even more troubled and egotistical than the generation before that.

Read more reviews after the jump

The Telegraph

All kinds of taboos are broken along the way: sexual, social, scatological, you name it. Witness, as the Cannes audience did today with their jaws between their feet, the extended bathroom sequence in which Moore’s character grunts and growls her way through a particularly tricky bowel movement, while cheerfully shouting orders at Agatha, whom she’s enlisted as a personal assistant. This is not how you’re supposed to make movies, and Cronenberg knows it.
My instant reaction, after stumbling, open-mouthed, from the cinema, was a pathological need to stumble back in again. There’s so much in this seething cauldron of a film, so many film-industry neuroses exposed and horrors nested within horrors, that one viewing is too much, and not nearly enough. Cronenberg has made a film that you want to unsee – and then see and unsee again.

Little White Lies

It’s an infuriating movie, and that is possibly the point. It feels like a ten-part TV mini-series which has been inelegantly compressed to feature length. There are so many quote marks littered on to the screen that it’s hard to make finite judgements on elements which may be knowingly bad or bad bad. A scene where Benjie is given a gun and places it against his head having taking the bullets out follows a tried-and-tested trajectory. But is it meant to? Is this duplicated banality? It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to tell if Cronenberg can tell. The smart money’s on yes, but further research is definitely required.

True to style, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars is a work of cinematic fusion. Like the weeping vagina hidden underneath Marylin Burns’ armpit, here we have a bracingly blasé investigation into unmentionable family taboos which has been forcibly integrated onto the body of a noxious (and not wholly convincing) La La Land burlesque. There are no waspish one-liners or ironic rib-nudges here — this is a punk jeremiad which rams your face into the constipated asshole of Hollywood. The thrill of watching the film comes from attempting to locate the strained sinews where these two strange sides converge — or, as the film would have it, finding “the flesh that says yes”.

The Guardian

Maps to the Stars is a tense and scary movie, unwholesome in the hold that it has on the audience. Perhaps, in the end, it is too extravagantly cynical to be entirely truthful about Hollywood and LA, but it has a Jacobean power, the kind of thing that John Webster or Thomas Middleton and William Rowley might write if they were living in the 21st century: a claustrophobic nightmare of despair


Maps of the Stars’ offers some ludicrous moments and a fair few bum notes, but we’re still left with a troubling sense of infected bloodlines, sick Hollywood genes and a world any sane person would run a mile from.

The Playlist

Robert Pattinson isn’t in it all that much (his role could argue be lifted from the film without too much problem), but yes, he’s pretty good in it. Plus you get to see him as a sort of glam-rock version of Khan from “Star Trek,” so there’s that.

But on the whole, the film is a sickly enjoyable wallow in the scandalous, fucked-up side of showbusiness, and a real return to form for the filmmaker. If nothing else, it’ll rid you of any last desire to go on an actual LA star tour, and that alone is something to be thankful for. [B+]

Twitter reactions

Harper’s Bazaar

Meandering towards a strange and thrilling climax, this isn’t the film to reinvent Cronenberg’s career, but it’s enough to keep us interested, sitting in the aisles.

Awards Daily

Maps to the Stars is about reaching upwards to something you’re never supposed to touch. You can buy a map but you’re never really meant to see what’s beyond the gates. We need stars to remain where they are — unimaginably far away, shimmering in the night sky. But a star is really just a ball of fire. If you get too close you get burned. This might not be the happy ending we’re seeking, but it’s the one we deserve.

The Wrap

His Cannes entry, “Maps to the Stars,” returns in a way to territory Cronenberg explored in “Dead Ringers,” and it’s probably the director’s best film in at least a decade. Here, working with the talented literary satirist of Hollywood culture, Bruce Wagner, Cronenberg has hit his stride in a big way. He nails our celebrity-obsessed culture, and the sickness it breeds, right to the wall

Cusack is appropriately creepy as the father, and Williams is solid. To say any more about them is really to spoil things. Robert Pattinson has a small part, but gets a love scene, of course, to satisfy his fans. Pattinson and Cronenberg are developing a nice collaboration, however, and here’s to hoping we get to see more from the two of them


The cast synchs with the material by exuding its wicked extremes. Moore’s icky performance marks her best work since “Magnolia,” and Wasikowska’s eerie disdain for the older competition allows her to make a welcome shift into creepier material. Cusack’s usual deadpan delivery gets a fresh kick from his character’s contemptible eccentricities. Bird, to date best known for his role on “The Killing,” nicely inhabits the child actor mold by radiating privilege in every line.

Only Pattinson, in a handful of scenes, is underutilized—yet the new context of his celebrity in this anti-celebrity project marks one more satisfying ingredient in Cronenberg’s subversive mixture. “Maps to the Stars” is like a poetic dissection of familiar ingredients that zeroes in on its worst offenders. Every major plot point, from Havana struggling to land a role playing her own mother to Agatha seeking to reenact a perverted incident from her parents’ past, underscores the impression of Hollywood’s redundant tendencies enveloped in an eternal downward cycle.

Total Film

Cronenberg’s back….

Truth be told, David Cronenberg’s never been one to shy away from the darker extremities of the human condition.

But in Maps to the Stars, he just may have created his most twisted, dark and brutally funny satire yet.

The morally corruptive excesses and soulessly inflated egos of Hollywood and its desperate starlets have long been documented on-screen. So at first Maps to the Stars plot doesn’t seem that unique.

A young girl steps off a Greyhound bus with illusions of star-studded grandeur after befriending Carrie Fisher on Twitter. An aging actress claws desperately at a career revival in a role that would see her play her own dead Hollywood icon of a mother. A tween star battles with addiction (and extreme douchiness) as his parents steer him towards his next multi-million dollar hit.

But it’s in Cronenberg’s bitter and often hilarious dissection of these archetypes, and the cold, sharp-tongued viciousness with which he explores their insecurities and arrogance that gives Maps to the Stars its comedy and its horror.

One by one, they all begin drowning in their own morally questionable quagmire, and it’s an escalating extremism that lends itself to some stunning performances. Julianne Moore is, as ever, the hottest and messiest of Hot Hot Messes, expertly embodying the narcissicism, desperation and patheticness of a woman living in the shadow of her mother’s glittering career. It’s an emotionally cartwheeling, dazzling turn, as tragic and shocking as it is hilarious.

Similarly, Mia Wasikowska is carving out an intriguing and impressive niche in the ‘beautiful unhinged nutjob’ market (see also: Stoker), Evan Bird convinces as a cruel and arrogant Justin Bieber-lite – as deranged by ego as the demons that haunt him, while Olivia Williams, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson support ably.

Along the way, every known taboo (and a few you’d probably never even contemplated) are broken, often with a breathtakingly black humour that illuminates the hideousness of the industry its pastiching.

Like all Stars, Cronenberg’s latest glows brightly before flaring up for a spectacular burnout of an ending. And while it may not be the most balanced of Hollywood examinations, it is – fittingly enough – definitely one of the most addictive.

Movie City News

Because Wagner’s script calls for actors to do and say depraved things with a straight face, the film couldn’t have been made—in this current form, anyway—without Cronenberg’s history of directing violence and dissecting the psycho-bizarre. Every player, especially Julianne Moore, surprises with their eagerness to go with the flow of debauchery. Mia Wasikowska is crazier here than she was in Stoker, and that’s saying something. Robert Pattinson, Cronenberg’s oddly appropriate muse, no longer needs to prove his authenticity as a proper actor. Finally, we need to see more of Evan Bird, witnessed here in his breakout role as a hilarious asshole narcissist. To be sure, Cronenberg’s navigation combined with Wagner’s pen (“it’s a fucking art film!”) make Maps to the Stars both a standout of Cannes 2014, and the best film the director has made since 2005.


“Maps” is the most overtly comedic screenplay Cronenberg has ever directed, but he hasn’t tailored his lensing or editing style to fit. The laughs come anyway, although some of Wagner’s funniest moments are left to languish, including an astoundingly inappropriate scene in which Havana celebrates the tragedy that forces a rival actress to resign from the role she’d coveted. If anything, Cronenberg has introduced a level of uncertainty as to whether it’s even appropriate to laugh when, say, Dr. Weiss starts punching his daughter in the stomach or Benjie strangles his young Ron Howard-like co-star — and the mayhem only escalates from there.

The Film Stage

Benjie, Agatha, and Havana make up the central narrative dynamic of Maps to the Stars, as Wagner’s script gets into the incestuous world of Hollywood’s sequels and remakes through, well, literal incest. The dull metaphor worked out here does mutate and become more and more strange—preemptions of the dead, Paul Eluard’s resistance poem Liberté, and many fires and eventual blood—that bring the film out of its broad strokes of pill popping and the private-public blend. And Cronenberg certainly shows his constrict control of tone: a shot reverse shot conversation is always given very subtle touches in his direction under Peter Suschitzky’s intensely white color palette; they’re rarely shot equidistant from each other, the camera always slanted to give one character just a sly bit of power. Howard Shore’s futuristic tones carry a hypnotic power that carries the film through its obsession with destiny.

Standard UK

Maps to the Stars begins as blistering comedy, like a more extreme version of Curb Your Enthusiasm, with a touch of The Bling Ring thrown in, but it soon morphs into a different kind of film, the dead returning in hallucination. Bruce Wagner’s script takes a fantasy turn that perhaps doesn’t make other than imaginative sense — but this is a funny, hypnotically nasty movie that goes further than anything before in treating Hollywood as a sickness.

Hollywood Elsewhere

Map really cuts to the rancid bone of Hollywood fuckwad culture in a mad-brushstroke way. I think…no, I know it’s Cronenberg’s best since A History of Violence or Spider, and before that Crash, Dead Ringers and The Dead Zone. Julianne Moore owns it pretty much as a nearly over-the-hill actress who’s desperate to stay in the game, but everyone else is on the same page here — John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson (yes, he’s on the stick), Sarah Gadon and the afore-mentioned Bird. They all get what’s going on, and it’s all quite perfect and complete

Cannes Live (google translate: original in french)

David Cronenberg and dares all his films are radicals. His satire of Hollywood is ferociously monstrous . Conniving , vanities , incest , neuroses … all mixed in Maps to the Stars ingredients make a ” King of Comedy ” macabre . Hollywood is a breeding ground for criminals in masks ephemeral glory : the brutal murder and even suicide by self-immolation are not desperate acts but raised with impunity .

After Cosmopolis , A History of Violence and Crash ( all presented in competition at Cannes ), David Cronenberg changes again register to deliver us a pamphlet without concessions.

Despite the very dark and biting humor characteristic of his movies, the dreaded Canadian director seems less inspired than usual . The symbol of freedom (apparently) is omnipresent very explicitly ( in the poem often repeated by Paul Eluard ) or less direct (all figures continue enslaving a quest for glory or an employment contract ) . The conclusion of the film is relentless : evil spreads and nothing seems to stop it.

Rid of the intellectual envelope that covered its previous Cosmopolis , Maps to the Stars is a direct movie and image of the painting that Hollywood vehicle fascinating and overwhelming. The interpretation of Robert Pattinson is very convincing but we also retain the always perfect Mia Wasikowska , and of course the exceptional Julianne Moore still pushes its limits once . After Short Cuts , Magnolia, Far from Heaven , or Don Jon , Julianne Moore collects disturbing performance and beyond .

This mirror game will not appeal to everyone. The film is book lovers ” wicked ” and strange cinema. It is far from the narrative simplicity and perfection of the director’s films such as “A History of Violence ” or ” The Promises ” . The fans!


There can’t be a more self-aware director working today than David Cronenberg, who’s been hearing the same questions about his work for the last 30 years. Rather than dwell on past glories, however, Cronenberg is always looking for ways to modernise and expand his style, which explains all his work since the last truly Cronerbergian film, 1999’s Matrix-style sci-fi eXistenz. Maps To The Stars is among the best of those film, adapting a script by Bruce Wagner that at once offers a very funny critique of modern-day LA life while being a very creepy story about family secrets, egos, insanity, and, most chilling of all, destiny.

Maps To The Stars is a Cronenberg film that uses stealth and skill to get under your skin and into your bloodstream in the way only his best ones do.

One response to “‘Maps to the Stars’ Cannes Film Festival Press Screening: Reviews & Media Reactions

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  1. Pingback: Master Post: The Rover & Maps to the Stars at CANNES Film Festival | Thinking of Rob

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