Most people know David Cronenberg for his work in the body horror genre niche, specifically films like Videodrome, The Fly, Shivers, and eXistenZ, as well as transgressive gonzo flicks like Naked Lunch. But in the 2000s, he took his career in a more respectable (if no less graphic and weird) direction with projects like History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method, all of which became minor awards season darlings and enjoyed substantial critical success – while slightly reinventing Cronenberg as an artist.
Now, the trailer for his latest project, Maps to the Stars, has landed online, and it looks like the film will stay in a similar vein as his latter-day productions: less gooey and gross, but still plenty mind-warping on their own merits. Concurrently, the movie showcases Cronenberg’s continued fascination with Robert Pattinson, Twilight‘s Edward, as the young actor strives to make a real career for himself following the end of the YA phenomenon; slowly but surely, he’s becoming the Leo to Cronenberg’s Scorsese (or perhaps the Michael Fassbender to his Steve McQueen).
Regardless, it’s exciting to see them together after their work on 2012’s Cosmopolis, though Maps to the Stars‘ real lead actually appears to be Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Stoker), herself no stranger to edgier, darker, more elliptical movies. Here, she plays Agatha Weiss, daughter to Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), a psychotherapist and analyst who has made his bones writing self-help manuals; her mother, Cristina (Olivia Williams, recently seen in Sabotage), mostly tends to her younger brother, child star Benje, fresh out of a drug rehab program he began at the tender young age of nine.
The plot kicks off when Agatha comes home from her own stint in treatment. Turns out she’s a pyromaniac, and she stayed in a sanatorium to confront her love of the flame. When she gets out, she befriends Pattionson’s limo driver, an aspiring actor, and begins working as an assistant to Stafford’s client Havana (Julianne Moore, soon to appear in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay), an actress struggling with her need to live up to her deceased famous mother’s name.
Where the film goes from this jumping off point is somewhat ambiguous, but Cronenberg is clearly dissecting the Hollywood family by carefully documenting each Weiss’ respective problems (which seem pretty numerous). There’s even a bit of paranormal hokum injected in here too, as Havan’s mother appears to her in spectral form, portrayed by Sarah Gadon (Enemy) – who also appeared in Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis, as it were. How do all of these elements add up? It’s anyone’s guess, but knowing Cronenberg, Maps to the Stars won’t take any expected paths of storytelling.
The film is currently in post-production, as per the sales trailer’s message, so it’s not known when audiences will be able to watch the Canadian director’s latest odyssey into the damaged human psyche. For now, we’ve just been left with the promise that it’ll arrive sometime this year.
We’ll keep you up to date on information about Maps to the Stars as it becomes available.