“I have the flu. I need cigarettes.”
Julianne Moore is an actress who sees ghosts, trying to get a film part where she’ll play her own mother in a bio-pic (like a terrible Clouds of Sils Maria remake). Evan Bird (of TV’s The Killing Remake) is a horrid child star, son of Rosemary Cross and new-age massage therapist John Cusack. Evan’s older sister Mia Wasikowska is out of an asylum and back in town, gets a job as Moore’s assistant and hangs out with limo driver Rob Pattinson.
Eventually connections fall into place, and people start dying. Moore gets the role because her rival’s son drowns. Evan murders a young costar who’s been upstaging him. Mia bludgeons her employer Moore with a film award. Rosemary Cross somehow catches on fakey digital fire. Then Mia and Evan creep away and take handfuls of pills. Throughout, the music and editing and shots are pretty unexceptional and I’d be worried about Cronenberg except that I read his terrific novel which released around the same time at this movie.
Mostly, though, itâ€™s just an excuse for [writer] Wagner to depict â€œscathinglyâ€ bad behavior, as when Mooreâ€™s fading starlet leaps around her house with joy upon learning that a rivalâ€™s adorable little son has just drowned, freeing up the plum role that Moore had just lost to said rival. Cronenberg, for his part, shoots this cavalcade of random potshots as functionally as possible â€” this is easily his least visually distinguished film (and also, perhaps not coincidentally, the first film heâ€™s ever shot in the U.S.). Hollywood may be a nest of vacuous vipers, but it deserves a less feeble takedown than this.