Canada | Germany 2013
Starts September 11, 2014
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Writing credits: Bruce Wagner
Cast: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, John Cusack, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson, Carrie Fisher, Justin Kelly, Sarah Gadon
Length: 111 minutes
Tinsel town—home to illusion, delusion, and disenchantment is the backdrop, and an extra, in David Cronenberg’s newest film. The Weiss’ seem like a perfectly normal, screwed-up, modern American-Hollywood family. Already jaded by thirteen, child star Benjie’s (Bird) faults are burying him. Christina (Williams) is more his agent than mom, and dad’s (Cusack) approach to psychoanalysis and his popular self-help books assures a solid client base, albeit he ignores what he advocates. The sister (Wasikowska) – “You know, for a disfigured schizophrenic you’ve got the town wired” – well, no one wants to talk about her—repercussions would be too great. Stir-in a limo-driver with an eye to stardom (Pattinson), and an actress (Moore) determined to play the role of her iconic, dear departed mother (Gadon): all are surrounded by artificial people, ensconced in settings meant to impress, enamor.
Cronenberg maps out his slanted obtuse version of a hackneyed story with support from Bruce Wagner’s thin screenplay; implied jokes and overused clichés abound here. A number of scenes should have been left on Ronald Sanders’ editing floor. Well worth mentioning are Moore and Wasikowska’s portrayals, with strong support from Williams, Cusack, and Bird considering their two-dimensional characters. Also, Howard Shore’s music. Considering the dreariness of the whole, any subtleties – contrived or not – fall flat, counting the banal ending. This is the type of film you can see, or not, without it making much difference. (Marinell H.)