Clouds of Sils Maria

In Clouds of Sils Maria Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, a renown stage and screen actress. She is traveling to Sils Maria in the Swiss Alps to accept an award on behalf of her mentor, author Wilhelm Melchior, when she learns that Melchior died of an apparent suicide. Traveling with Maria is her devoted assistant, Valentine (César winner for best supporting actress Kristen Stewart). The part that made Maria famous was Sigrid in Melchior’s play Maloja snake’. In the play, Sigrid seduces then abandons her older female boss, Helena. A revival of the play is planned, and the young director would like Maria to now play Helena. Maria is reluctant to take on the part, but eventually accept. Staying at Melchior’s house in the Swiss Alps, she start rehearsing her lines with Valentine. They also talk a lot about the play, while hiking and walking on the mountains. Maria questions the validity of a revival. She thinks the play is outdated and that Sigrid was a better part for her than Helena. And young American actress (and paparazzi magnet) Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz) who has been cast as Sigrid, does not meet her approval. Valentine loves Ellis’ acting even when she plays in action or sci-fi movies. Maria and Valentine are very close at first, but with time we can perceive some sexual tensions. Maria and Valentine’s relationship mirrors the fictional Helena and Sigrid’s. This is a very intellectual, and I found a very unsatisfying film. The characters are cold and dry. The acting from Juliette Binoche is bellow what she usually offers her fans. The real surprise is Kristen Stewart. From the film’s opening, we know Stewart’s Valentine is a most competent personal assistant to Maria, and Stewart remains quietly effective throughout. She is the only reason to see Clouds of Sils Maria.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Clouds of Sils Maria

Directed by:
Olivier Assayas
Screenplay by:
Olivier Assayas
Juliette Binoche
Kristen Stewart
Chloë Grace Moretz
124 min.
Rated 14A
In English, French and German with English subtitles

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