Film review: Maps to the Stars

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David Cronenberg presents a relentlessly grim satire of ambition, greed and dark familial secrets in this Hollywood tale.

Scriptwriter Bruce Wagner, who crafted this lacerating portrait of Tinseltown while he was working as a limousine driver is unflinching in his depiction of how far some starlets go to extend their 15 minutes of fame... even if it means thrusting a stiletto heel into the head of a rival to clamber up the pecking order.

Undated Film Still Handout from Maps To The Stars. Pictured: Julianne Moore. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from Maps To The Stars. Pictured: Julianne Moore. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Precocious child stars bound for rehab and New Age healers are in Wagner’s sights as he laments the death of raw talent and the rise of the perfectly packaged commodity.

And they don’t come more lucrative than 13-year-old Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), a pre-pubescent box office prince whose upwards trajectory is carefully managed by mother Christina (Olivia Williams).

Maps To The Stars is anchored by Moore’s fearless and emotionally raw performance as a screen siren, haunted –literally – by the ghost of her more successful mother.

Wasikowska is similarly impressive as a daughter undone by the sins of her father and Pattinson continues to shove a stake through the heart of his image as a swooning teen dreamboat.

Screenwriter Wagner doesn’t always achieve smooth transitions between black comedy, drama and tragedy, and he tips the wink too early to the skeletons rattling in the Weiss family closet.

However, he does puncture over-inflated egos of the rich and supposedly fabulous with the skill of someone who has been there and almost done that.