In a David Cronenberg interview posted on 2.23, The Dissolve‘s Calum Marsh mentioned a quote from Mubi critic Miriam Bale: “Bruce Wagner wrote Maps to the Stars as a broad comedy, but it isn’t directed that way.”
Cronenberg’s response: “It’s almost true. There are elements that are broad comedy, but I can quote [Maps star] Julianne Moore, in fact, who said she thought Bruce’s extreme hyper-emotionality and humor and my cool, neutral observational direction made a really good combination. And I think that’s sort of a more detailed version of what this critic was saying.
“If you had a director who really went with that other stuff, you would get a very over-the-top, exaggerated, and, to me, maybe a false movie instead of what it is — which is still funny. But the humor comes from within the characters, from the observation of the absurdity of the human condition, rather than a sort of self-parodying thing, or something that you could’ve done with it. And I think that’s correct.
“I remember Truffaut saying all those many years ago, as a director, you would direct against the script. And then, when you’re editing, you edit against the directing…you know? And it’s really trying to find a balance. It’s a tricky thing. You don’t just go with one tone and do that at every part of the process, you have to have balances and checks and so on to come to something interesting.”
Which is precisely why I said the following in my initial Maps to the Stars review (5.18.14) out of Cannes: “I went in expecting a smart-ass spoof, but Maps is much darker and more visionary and at the same time much more sincere in an unforced, even-handed way.
“This is how you do a lethal comic satire, by having the cast perform and behave like they’re not kidding or winking in the slightest, like they really mean it…seriously. Maps 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.”