Julianne Moore in Map To The Stars (2014)

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Julianne Moore won the best actress prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her performance as Havana Segrand, a washed-up film star trying to resuscitate her career by playing her late mother, who was also a famous actress. Unless I (and the entire internet) am very much mistaken, I am about 99% sure that Julianne Moore is going to win the Oscar next year. NOT for this performance, but for her other one in Still Alice. The fact that she got a double nomination for Map To The Stars and Still Alice at the Golden Globes pretty much sums it up, and the buzz is so damn strong for her Still Alice performance that if she loses I’m pretty sure it’s going to be considered an upset. I have yet to watch Still Alice, but from what I’ve heard, she’s fantastic although it is far from her best performance (?). Looking forward to that one though.

Julianne Moore is such a fascinating actress. I really like her in general, and to me, her performance as Laura Brown in The Hours is one of the most profoundly upsetting piece of work ever. She depicted depression with such scary realism that she even elevated her slightly pretentious film. Her performance in Far From Heaven is also brilliant, and while I don’t love it as much as people do (I happen to be a fan of Nicole Kidmans Virginia Woolf), there’s no denying how much poetry, beauty and sadness she injected into that one. Don’t even get me started on that Boogie Nights robbery. Ok, I know I made a comment in a very old post about how no one is considered overdue as long as Glenn Close is Oscarless, but after watching several of Moore’s works, including her 4 Oscar-nominated ones, Safe and now Map To The Stars…yeah, I’m also wondering what is the Academy’s issue with her.

Map To The Stars is…interesting. I happen to like David Cronenberg as a director, and by the way, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises are amongst my favourite movies. Still, there are times I feel that he can get way too stylized for his own good. Actually, I do think that Map To The Stars is a very good and thought-provoking piece but I don’t think I’ll be watching it again anytime soon because I find the story a bit too messed up for my liking LOL. It’s not exactly what I’d call entertainment, and yet I feel that it is a film that film fanatics (and aspiring starlets) should watch at least once. First of all, I know some people claim that nothing happens in it, but I kinda think that was what Cronenberg was going for – to capture the dark realities behind the glamour of modern Hollywood. And let’s face it – is it really that unrealistic as people say? Personally, I don’t find it hard to believe that life in Hollywood can really be this shitty – child celebrities doing drugs and fucking up their lives (reminds me of a particular canandian singer), the superficiality of the relationships between the celebrities, and perhaps on a serious note, the fact that the celebrities can get away with almost, well, anything. Like even murder. As a social commentary, I actually think the film succeeds. I just felt sick and filthy watching these celebrities do drugs, pretend to be friendly to each other and then bitch behind each other’s backs, Still, some parts really dragged, especially the scenes where the characters’ hallucinations taunt them (like just stfu already, I get that you’re their “inner demons” or whatever) and boy, that Benjie character really drives me up the walls. I know that’s the point of the character and his story but I swear every time he appears (and he has more scenes than Julianne Moore, I think) I just wanna punch something.

Right from her entrance, Moore steals the scenes as Havana, the washed-up actress. What I particular admire about Moore’s performance is how unselfish her acting is. She doesn’t beg for your sympathy which is usually typical in a role like this – she goes all out to show you what a pathetic, self-entitled and disgusting piece of crap Havana really is. Right from the beginning where she whines and moans about how she is not going to get the role, Moore steals every scene she is in. What is amazing is that she could have gone way over the top with Havana’s personality, and in a way she did but she also grounds the characterization with realism, and more importantly, humour. Yes, I’m not gonna deny that I laughed when she bitched about how another actress allowed men to “pee in her ass”. All those gossiping, bitching and “industry talk” are so realistically delivered that I really believed that’s how it’s pretty much like in the celebrity social circle.

Havana isn’t the most complex character, and in fact Moore’s screentime is more limited than you would expect for a leading role, but she she brought out so many facets and layers of the character that she really stood out to among the entire cast. The scenes where she is haunted by the visions of her dead mother were really messed up and funny (in a dark way), and I think Moore really handled the delicate balance between the dark humour and disturbing nature of these scenes very well. I mean, it’s kinda funny when her imaginary “mother” insults her tits and stuff like that, but the whole situation in itself is just sad and messed up. I wouldn’t say that I empathised with Havana – I think it is pretty clear that you’re not meant to like any of the characters in this film or feel sorry for them, but I’ll give it to Moore to actually make me care about Havana, or at least find her interesting. (Cause frankly speaking, I couldn’t care less about Benjie and his spooky girl visions)

To me, the highlight of the performance comes from the scene where she learns that the the son of the actress playing the role she was vying for has died. Moore was just brilliant there – the initial fake concern and “shock”, then pretending that she couldn’t accept the role, and then her little song and dance number afterwards to celebrate her getting the role. Havana’s such a two-faced bitch, and while I feel bad for admitting it, it’s actually kinda fun to watch. Watching her pretend to care about Agatha (played brilliantly by Mia Wasikowska), and then screwing her boyfriend/partner/companion (?) afterwards, it’s all just so pathetic and disgusting, but amazingly enough Moore brought out the humour behind the absurdity of the situations.

To sum it up, I think Julianne Moore is terrific here, as usual. Her movie does try to overshadow her, and I understand why some people argue she is supporting (which I really disagree), but to me stands out as the most memorable performer in her strange film. It’s a strong piece of work by a talented actress.

And congrats to Moore for being the fourth performer after Katharine Hepburn, Geraldine Page and Walter Huston to have more than one performance discussed on this blog. Lol.

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2 comments

  1. I LOVE Julianne in this movie. She’s so much wicked and tragic fun. And unlike you, I think I could watch the movie over and over again just for her. Hands down my favorite female performance of the year so far (though granted I’ve seen very, very few for this year’s lady contenders), though I struggle with whether or not she’s lead or supporting.

    1. Haha, I think the film is worth watching JUST for her performance. I didn’t really care about the rest of it, though I think it’s good. But I agree with you, and I might even say it’s one of her best performances after boogie nights. I am looking forward to Still Alice, but I got a feeling I might prefer her in this one. That performance sounds like the typical stuff the academy goes for – great, but “safe”.

      And thanks for the comment!

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