Maps to the Stars

Sometimes it helps for a movie to lack internal consensus on the matter of its tone. Sometimes that can be a source of rowdy vitality. Unless it’s a David Cronenberg movie. What happens in Maps to the Stars is this: Fresh off a cross-country bus to Hollywood, a variously damaged Mia Wasikowska hires a limo driven by Robert Pattinson to locate the 13-year-old superbrat star of a movie called Bad Babysitter, to whom she has a special connection, then gets herself hired as the “chore whore” for an older superbrat star played by Julianne Moore. Soul-sickness ensues, as observed by Cronenberg with studied disinterest. The script, by L.A. fixture Bruce Wagner, might once have been angry but now just seems exhausted and hollowed out. Maybe that’s what attracted the director, although it’s hard after watching this to say exactly how or why. Something in the emphasis just seems off, and it’s like someone taking too long to tell a joke whose punchline you deduce ahead of time and don’t find funny anyway. Really this is more a barrel of fish than of monkeys — mostly a jaded movie-industry satire (in a cameo, Carrie Fisher plays herself), but also, being Cronenberg, a horror film, full of ghost stories and little monsters. Moore is of course all in — whether letting lotus-position serenity degrade into a primal scream, or jumping for joy at the death of rival’s child — and Maps to the Stars should at least serve nicely as the current movie you’d rather she won the Oscar for.