Well…that was interesting. Not quite what I’ve come to expect (and fear) from David Cronenberg, but not your typical Hollywood fare either, though that’s exactly what it’s satirizing.
John Cusack is the family patriarch, a successful therapist\coach of some sort, with a book deal a talk-show circuit and an awful lot of bullshit. His wife acts as the agent for their spoiled child-start son, fresh out of rehab which he entered at the age of 9, and who’s still the “good kid” and certainly the bankable one, compared to a sister (Mia Wasikowska ) who’s just finished an involuntary stint in a sanitorium and now works as a “chore whore” (personal assistant) for an aging diva still aching for parts (Julianne Moore).
I confess that I didn’t always know where this is going, and I’m still not sure where it went, but the performances, Moore’s especially, were so strong, it hardly mattered. It occurs to me that an ode to Julianne Moore is long overdue here – in this movie and in so many others, she just goes for broke. It’s not always pretty but she’s one of few actresses not deterred by the unflattering. In this she goes from raw and wounded to vacuous and self-absorbed, but she does it in a way that’s not unsympathetic. The misery and sorrow feel real and thus it’s impossible to really hate her. Moore somehow manages to humanize her characters and put a real spark into them.
The script is less than brilliant. It’s easy to point fingers at Hollywood, to laugh at the yoga and the dysfunction, but it’s already been done dozens of times. This is just another fresh layer of fucked-up.
In Canada, we used to honour cinematic achievement with a Genie award (they’ve now merged into the “Canadian Screen Awards”). They’re irrelevant as ever (Cronenberg has 5) but if you’ve ever wondered what else they’re good for you, boy are you in for a treat.