Part of the reason David Cronenberg’s new Maps to the Stars is so engrossing is that it’s two kinds of movie at once. The surface is all brutal Hollywood satire, the child star who only eats red Skittles and the washed-up actress demanding that her assistant fetch her Xanax and Kozy Shack pudding. This stuff is breathtaking: the massage therapist who helps his scantily-clad clients work through child abuse (“I’m going to press on a personal history point now”), the hateful cheek-kissing and the jaded, foul-mouthed tweens.
But all of that satire is in the service of another kind of movie. Maps to the Stars is a ghost movie, both literally and figuratively. Slowly its weirdnesses, its hallucinations and catchphrases, start to focus on one central concern: How do we free ourselves from the past?