Written and Directed by Olivier Assayas
Starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz
Maria Enders: Time has gone by and she can’t accept it. Me neither, I guess.
Life imitates art in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, the latest film from French auteur, Olivier Assayas. The legendary Juliette Binoche stars as Maria Enders, an aging film and stage actress who rose to fame after her debut as Sigrid in the play Maloja Snake. In recent years, Maria has distanced herself from the stage, becoming increasingly successful as a screen actress. Maria’s entire career is kept organized by her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart). After the death of Maloja Snake’s playwright, Maria is offered the chance to star in a restaging of the play, but this time appearing in the role of Sigrid’s older lover Helena. The opportunity to star in the elder role, opposite the young Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz) has Maria examining her relationship with Valentine, her Hollywood career, and her own mortality.
CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA is an absolute master class in acting, screenwriting and direction. Assayas’ screenplay is at times so delicately subtle, that if not paying close attention, a viewer can completely miss the subtext in a scene. This is definitely assisted by the acting talents of Binoche and Stewart, who play off each other wonderfully. At times, Assayas’ script mirrors Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 classic PERSONA, as the character traits spread throughout the film’s stars, and Maloja Snake’s characters, seem to carefully bounce from actor to actor. When it comes to great performances, Binoche is never a surprise. With films like CERTIFIED COPY and BLUE, Binoche has secured her place as one of the greatest French actresses ever to grace the silver screen. The biggest surprise in the film comes in the form of Stewart’s performance. Under Assayas’ careful direction, the usually obvious and listless Stewart gives a perfectly restrained performance.
While CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA may seem slow at times to some, there is actually always something happening; you may just have to look a little deeper to find it. When the women’s roles are this good, it’s something you simply can’t pass up.