In Reviews

April 11th, 2015




Clouds of Sils Maria starts with a successful actress, her youthful years behind her (Juliette Binoche), her well prepared publicist (Kristen Stewart), the death of the elder actresses mentor, and the rise of a promising star (Chloe Grace Moretz). Never has a film so successfully captured the strengths, weaknesses, fears, desires, and passions of women, as Clouds of Sils Maria. If voters were smart, all three roles would have spots in the best actress and supporting acting categories for 2015. I always want to champion for women in film, and this is a film that should carry the torch. 

Juliette Binoche is Maria Enders, whom at one point was the most famous actress in all of theater when she played the role of Sigrid in the play “Maloja Snake”. On her way to Zurich, to give an award to her mentor and writer of the play- Wilhelm Melchior, the playwright shockingly passes away. This news is relayed to Maria by her publicist Valentine (Stewart). That publicist is everything to Ms. Enders. She answers her emails, her phone calls, helps her write her speeches, and occasionally gets her coffee too. The two of them rely on each other. A friendship that is sometimes for good, sometimes with unhealthy habits, but when Maria is faced with a different direction in her life, their need for one another will push them to the edge of the mountain.

Directed by Olivier Assayas (Clean; Demonlover), the director let’s his powerful screenplay (also written by Assayas) and his leading ladies have full control of the drama. The films biggest success is in the calculated casting selection of each actress. Binoche, 51 years old, has done it all in the field of acting. An Academy Award winner, an iconic figure in her home of Paris, France, she is the only person I could imagine to play the role of “veteran actor”. Stewart, looks every bit the part. Wild haired and busy, but not an overwhelmed publicist. And then Moretz, who arrives like a raging fire, is the rising star actress today, something that the veteran just can’t understand. It’s life imitating art on top of life imitating art.  

Now, Maria’s mentor is gone, but there is an offer on the table for her to play the more mature role of Helena in a revival of “Maloja Snake” and the wildly Lindsay Lohan-like Jo-Ann Ellis (Moretz) has been cast to play Sigrid. This scares Maria, but Valentine convinces her to accept the challenge. Enders and Valentine escape to the home of her mentor in the mountains of Sils Maria, where they will retreat from the flashing lights and late night galas. While they are up in those hills though, their relationship will be challenged as the deep conversations that they engage in start to become similar to the dialogue that’s written in the play. 

Clouds of Sils Maria is an impressive piece of drama. It reminded me of an updated version of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s classic film- All About Eve. It is rich and full of passion, as each scene moves and slides like a slithering snake. The performance from Kristen Stewart won her the Cesar award for best supporting actress and it’s a complete 180 from her Twilight days.  This is a film that shows an accurate representation of a power struggle that most actresses must deal with in their stages of life and I hope a lot of people go out and see this one, it’s really good.

3 ½ Stars

Written by: Leo Brady

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