Mapping Hollywood’s dysfunction at Reel Canadian Film Fest

The annual Reel Canadian Film Festival took over Fernie’s Vogue Theatre last weekend for the seventh time and on its Saturday evening docket was Maps To the Stars — a jumbled satire depicting the insanity of Hollywood.

Directed by Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, the film starred the festival’s most recognizable names with an ensemble cast featuring Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson.

With the play-on-words title indicating that the film will draw a picture explaining how its characters — among them a washed-up C-Lister desperate to emulate her late film icon mother (Moore), a Bieber-esque 13-year-old getting his career on track following a stint in rehab (Evan Bird), a schizophrenic burn victim hungry for fame (Wasikowska) and a quacked-up TV psychologist to the stars (Cusack) — have gotten to where they are, the film’s narration leaves things less than clear.

Though some of the film’s easy cracks at Hollywood and the craziness of the business ring true, in the film’s case plotlines of incest and disturbing familial sexual relationships serve as a main allegory and it tries to be too many things at once.

This forces some of its satire and jokes to fall flat or create a sense of awkward questioning if a disturbing scene warrants a laugh.

Among those include Dr. Stafford Weiss (Cusack) punching his daughter in the stomach repeatedly, an accidental murdering of a dog or a later scene where Weiss pushes his wife (also his sister) into a pool after finding her on fire upon his return home.

The film isn’t without its merits, however. Moore delivers an electric performance and fully commits to the internal turmoil of a broken actress, as has frequently been her M.O. in films. But even an Oscar-nominated actress couldn’t overpower the purposefully absurd and silly satire that is Maps.

The purpose of the film festival is to highlight Canadian talent in film, with five films with a strong Canadian connection being shown over three days. Included were When The Ocean Met The Sky, Heartbeat, Maps, Monsoon and Mommy.

An opening and closing reception also welcomed locals to the festival.

Appeared in print January 22, 2015 and online at The Free Press



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