This tricky Hollywood satire from legendary Canadian director David Cronenberg is a fuming tirade on that certain breed of L.A. living that isn't afraid to cut to tinsel town's bone.
Ethereal Mia Wasikowska plays ethereal burn victim Agatha Weiss who we're told has just arrived on the Hollywood hills. She drives around with chauffer Robert Pattinson (money apparently of no consequence) before taking a PA job with Havana Segrand; a collagen lipped, foul mouthed actress (brilliant, rowdy Julianne Moore) on the cusp of ‘a certain age’. We learn that Segrand's mother was nominated for an Academy Award before passing away at a very young age. She visits Havana as a spectre, forever beautiful through death. The studio plans a remake of the mother’s acclaimed “art film” and Havana is desperate to land the lead role.
The actress' self empowerment, sexual yoga therapist (or whatever the hell John Cusack is) has a son (a delightfully detestable Evan Bird) in the movies too. He just made it big with something called Bad Babysitter, and a sequel, of course, is tentatively in the works. Paths cross; secrets are revealed; it all gets very risqué.
We learn at one point that Wasikowska's parents are siblings and there are similar incestuous references throughout. In the junket that followed the screening Cronenberg stated that the incest on show is more emblematic of the creative incest we see in Hollywood today; the rehashing of ideas and drawn out franchise culture leaving little room for anything else to get by.
It's important to note that the director had never shot a film in Hollywood before so kudos should be given for wanting to hold up a mirror on the place's infamous bizarro lifestyles. The film certainly seems pissed at the state of affairs, taking shots at yoga culture, youth obsession, sexual currency and all the rest of the postcode's generally depraved morals. The death of a child is celebrated for freeing up a role, a murder mourned for somewhat the same.
Is this it the comeback we were pining for? Regrettably not, but it is far cleaner than its predecessor Cosmopolis (which I still quite liked) and as ever with the prolific director, things are never ever dull. Keep em coming.