Valium, Vicodin and Valentino: we reimagine David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars helmed by the king of Hollywood shade
Watching Julianne Moore try to take a crap isn’t something you get to do every day. The last time we saw her playing a mansion-wandering loner was in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. This time, Moore plays a pill-popping, therapy addicted actress who, when she isn’t constipated, spends her time watching her career fade. We’re talking about her turn in David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars. And her performance is just one of the many joyous, addictive elements to this fucked up vision of Hollywood.
For all its genius twitter references, celebrity name drops and super sharp jabs at vapid Los Angeles culture, it does leave one burning question: what if Bret Easton Ellis had written the movie? The man behind Less Than Zero, Glamorama and Imperial Bedrooms is a headline-grabbing author (and tweeter) who, through his visions of a psychotic Beverly Hills and beyond, has single-handedly cemented the grim side of Hollywood.
In Maps to the Stars, Julianne Moore plays Havana Segrand: an actress who has the chance to get her career back if she can grab the role of a lifetime. That role, however, just so happens to require playing her abusive late mother. Mia Wasikowska plays Agatha Weiss, the dark horse who comes into Havana’s life as her new assistant. Weiss hides her burns from a house fire under some seriously creepy leather gloves and seems addicted to becoming a centrepiece in Hollywood life.
Young actor Evan Bird is a teen idol hellbent on a drug-fuelled decline and John Cusack is a famous life coach and therapist to Havana. Oh, and Robert Pattinson pops up as a chauffeur with bigger dreams of becoming an actor slash scriptwriter who will do anything (and anyone) to get there.
Let’s imagine then that Hollywood film heavyweight Bruce Wagner hadn’t penned the script and instead, the author in question had. Here, we suggest some Bret Easton Ellis signature, nightmare-inducing twists and turns that would have made the film even better. Be warned: there are some serious spoilers to follow.
HERVÉ LÉGER AND PRESCRIPTION PILLS AT DAWN
The polite confrontation scene between Julianne Moore and her nemesis outside the Valentino boutique is fabulous, sure. But how much more acidic would a front row showdown at a Los Angeles fashion week show have been? Imagine Moore’s character Havana being ushered in wearing another Hervé Léger bandage dress only to find that her arch enemy Azita has not only stolen the role Moore was vying for, but has now taken her front row stoop. The resulting gifs would have been endless.
TAKING A DUMP
Word of Julianne Moore’s character trying to take a number two on the loo while delivering sex advice to Mia Wasikowska’s Agatha got around the minute the film began international screenings. Imagine though, if instead of telling Agatha about how constipated she is while proffering sex advice, Havana had gone on a million words-per-second, Glamorama-inspired rant that dropped a million celebrity names and – at its climax – caused her to drop the goods.
ENERGY DRINKS ARE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Part of the thrill of Maps to the Stars is Evan Bird as Benjie Weiss. We’ve been waiting for a Justin Bieber-esque reference like this on film for a while and Benjie’s character nails it. So, from his incest-filled childhood to his rehab-fuelled decline from early stardom, surely a sped-up montage scene in the style of Victor from The Rules of Attraction would have been appropriate? After all, Benjie spends his time sipping on gigantic cans of energy drinks and then ends up shooting a dog. Prior to that bullet hitting the hound, a monumental, brain smash of a flashback would have been magic.
MR. BATEMAN WILL SEE YOU NOW
Everyone loves the return of a famous character – something Ellis prides himself on, especially in Imperial Bedrooms. Maps may have its ghostly moments but what if people from the past were actual characters? When Havana learns she has the part in the movie, it’s because Azita’s son has recently drowned and so she can’t work. Havana is joyous. I can’t help but think Agatha (played by Sarah Gadon) helped secure this fate. Let’s play make believe and imagine she had hired Patrick Bateman, an out of town hitman to get rid of the obstacle in between Havana’s new found glory.
Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of a subtle, violent psychopath is pure gold. Ellis’ knack for introducing a monster would have made for more fortune. Wasikowska’s character Agatha wears elbow-length leather gloves and a shady bob to hide her burns. Imagine if, during the scene where Robert Pattinson lays her down in the Hollywood hills to make love, she revealed a more disturbing form beneath her layers of black clothing. Think the lawn-creeping creatures in Lunar Park or the vampires in The Informers and you’ll get the gist.
Although Wagner has delivered a weird, hilarious and sometimes emotional script, we couldn’t help but consider the social media campaign that would have inevitably followed suit if Easton Ellis had been involved. Tweets revealing who each character was really based on seem par for the course. Who is it that Julianne Moore is playing? Is she an Angelina, a Julia or maybe someone trashier like a Melanie? Either way, we can only guess. And maybe that’s best. Half the magic with Maps to the Stars is that it lures you into its ridiculous world like a soap opera you accidentally flick on when you’re bored at home. It seems accidental, a joke between friends that became a vision. It’s just a shame we don’t have Bret tweeting whose company he enjoyed least on set to help add to all the scandal.
Maps to the Stars is out in cinemas on Friday 26th September