Viewed – 06 February 2015 online-rental
I’ll generally watch anything directed by David Cronenberg, that former horror auteur responsible for such titles as Scanners, The Fly, as well as thrillers like A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises. Going into this I felt echoes of another David’s work, namely David Lynch especially with his dark-side-of-Hollywood opus Mulholland Drive.
A physically and emotionally scarred young woman, Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) arrives off a coach seemingly intent on discovering Hollywood and befriends a chauffer (Robert Pattinson). Soon she is hired by struggling former star Havana (Julianne Moore) as her personal assistant. Havana is trying to land the role in a remake of her deceased mother’s most famous film, whilst at the same time struggling with her own personal demons. We also get a child actor with over-barring parents (including a self-help guru John Cusack).
Think ‘The Player’ meets ‘Mulholland and you’ll get an idea of this dark but interesting drama. Wasikowska is, as always excellent as the troubled and manipulative Agatha and Moore is daring and tragic playing an actress way past her sell by date. It perfectly showcases how fake and artificial the movie industry can be, and especially how throwaway it is with young and ageing actors. Cusack, one of my favourites is fairly wasted here not getting much chance to be anything more than a money hungry scumbag, and the kid playing the child actor is quite unlikable also. Well, all the characters here are unlikable, but that’s clearly the point. Cronenberg observes them like insects waiting to be trod on, but the occasional lapses into surrealism and brutal violence (death by academy award?) or explicit sex (gotta hand it to Moore … she’s fearless!) at least livened up what is otherwise a fairly downbeat and depressing tale. For Cronenberg this was fascinating but ultimately quite limp for such a provocative and challenging film maker.
Verdict: 3 /5