David Cronenberg‘s Map To The Stars (Weinstein Co., 9.26) is not just a brilliant, black-as-night satire of soul-less, impossibly fucked-up Hollywood players, although it’s certainly that in part. And it’s not just a film that will send Justin Beiber and his representatives into saliva-sputtering fits due to the fact that Beiber is clearly the model for a 13 year-old TV superstar named Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) — an ice-cold, soul-dead monster who has the makings of a junior-league Hannibal Lecter. What Map to The Stars does altogether — and this is what makes it an historic film within the Cronenberg canon, and which may result in winning the Palme d’Or or some special distinction prize of some kind — is jump off a kind of grand guignol cliff. I went in expecting a stiff swig of vinegar and a smart-ass spoof, but Map, which was written by Bruce Wagner (Force Majeure), 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. 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.