Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
10 years after a global economic collapse, a hardened loner pursues the men who stole his only possession, his car. Along the way, he captures one of the thieves' brother, and the duo form an uneasy bond during the dangerous journey.
Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.
The Weiss family is the archetypical Hollywood dynasty: father Stafford is an analyst and coach, who has made a fortune with his self-help manuals; mother Cristina mostly looks after the career of their son Benjie, 13, a child star. One of Stafford's clients, Havana, is an actress who dreams of shooting a remake of the movie that made her mother, Clarice, a star in the 60s. Clarice is dead now and visions of her come to haunt Havana at night... Adding to the toxic mix, Benjie has just come off a rehab program he joined when he was 9 and his sister, Agatha, has recently been released from a sanatorium where she was treated for criminal pyromania and befriended a limo driver Jerome who is also an aspiring actor. Written by
By Hollywood, for Hollywood, chasing its own tail.
Scarred bodies and minds are recurring elements in Cronenberg's filmography. Not that I care much; they do not dominate those of his films that I like. Unfortunately for me, that trend persists, as I didn't get my fix of either spooks, wows, wits or laughs from Maps to the Stars.
I felt detached all along. I didn't feel anything, apart from being annoyed by a few characters and a slapping desire. Here are a few reasons for this disconnection: .
* It's all about Hollywood celebrities. One of the most exposed, yet least interesting microcosms on the planet. Meh.
* There are a lot of useless scenes, usually dragging out vapid conversations.
* Meanwhile, central characters are kept in the background. They may later become tragically pivotal, but we don't care by then; we don't even know them. Was that bad editing or just bad scripting ? .
* Creepiness never takes. That's embarrassing because Mr Cronenberg had always excelled at this. Here, his ghosts and hallucinations have no impact. They may even be a tad ridiculous.
Basically, the story doesn't flow and the emotions don't cross the screen. The cast is mostly fine. J. Moore has demonstrated time and again that she embodies the definition of an actress, i.e., an exhibitionist. No doubt her farting on a crapper will be praised by European critics.
Best are the two kids, but in fairness they have more material to work with. The boy has a face that screams "slap me!", and the urge becomes irrepressible as soon as he opens his mouth, but thanks to some serious scenes and an adequate delivery, my nerves are later soothed in his presence. Almost.
The girl, I had already seen elsewhere, in different registers. Here she is both spirited and delicate. Her character is out of a mental institute, yet she is the sanest of the lot. I suspect she was supposed to bring a subtle aura of menace, but I'm not sure. I bet Cronenberg isn't sure either. He got lost between his story and his private jokes.
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