Opening 11 Sep 2014
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 (Evan Bird) faults are burying him. Christina (Olivia Williams) is more his agent than mom, and dad’s (John Cusack) approach to psychoanalysis and his popular self-help books assures a solid client base, albeit he ignores what he advocates. The sister (Mia 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 (Robert Pattinson), and an actress (Julianne Moore) determined to play the role of her iconic, dear departed mother (Sarah 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 Haegelin)