Clouds of Sils Maria

clouds of sils mariaFinally caught the beautiful and insightful Clouds of Sils Maria starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart. Written and directed by Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Irma Vep), the English language Clouds of Sils Maria takes place in Switzerland following the life of a famous French actress – Bincoche’s Maria who began her career at age 18 in a two-character play where she is now being courted for the revival to play the older role. The only misstep in this film is the time span. The character is supposed to be 20 years older, but in reality it would have played better to have her be 30 years older. The trauma over middle age didn’t make sense for someone being 38. No worries, it took me most of the film to realize Juliette Binoche was playing Maria at 38 instead of 48. I was captivated by the friendship between Maria and her personal assistant Valentine played by Kristen Stewart. Instead of Assayas portraying the drama between Binoche’s Maria and Moretz’ Jo-Ann as they rehearse the play, the real conflict and bulk of the film takes place in a remote mountain home and between Maria and Valentine as they rehearse lines in anticipation of the actual play rehearsal. A fascinating choice mixing up an otherwise straight-forward story. In the end, Moritz barges in on the peace and her celebrity invades every aspect of their world. Suddenly it’s no longer about the play, but about Jo-Ann’s real-life boyfriend’s wife who tries to commit suicide. And then it is about Jo-Ann taking over the play. In the end, Bincoche learns some hard but essential life lessons about youth and importance. The final moments of the film are a bit too pat for my taste. But that aside, Clouds of Sils Maria is an important film about women, friendship, work boundaries, and celebrity. Well worth the time spent absorbing excellent performances from Binoche, Stewart, and Moritz. 3.75 out of 5 for Clouds of Sils Maria.

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