Clouds of Sils Maria
Summer 2015 Features series
Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 8:00pm
Directed by Olivier Assayas
Screenplay by Olivier Assayas
Rated NR ·
France / Switzerland / Germany / USA / Belgium
English, French, German, and Swiss German
A veteran stage star (Juliette Binoche, Summer Hours, Caché) turns to her assistant (Kristen Stewart, Still Alice) for solace as she jousts with an arrogant younger actress (Chloë Grace Moretz, Hugo), in the brilliant new film from French auteur Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Something in the Air).
Binoche plays Maria, a famous actor who rose to success with her role in an acclaimed lesbian play in which she played the younger part opposite a middle-aged lover. Now, years later, she is approached to do the same play—this time in the role of the older woman. As life begins to mirror art, Maria finds herself facing a younger version of herself in the form of Jo-Ann (Moretz), the actor hired to play opposite her.
The tension between an established star confronted with age and the arrogant younger woman on the rise provides much of the internal and psychological drama of Clouds of Sils Maria. Assayas expands his narrative by providing ample screen time for what is in effect the central relationship of the film, that between Maria and her hyperefficient assistant, Valentine (Stewart), who balances iPhone and BlackBerry calls and texts while providing her boss with pertinent advice along the way.
As Maria and her assistant hide out in the Swiss Alps (the film carries with it the feel of summertime outdoors in the mountains), we are shown all the insecurities of an actress trying to balance fame with privacy, career with personal life, while wondering if attitudes toward aging have put an early expiration date on her career. And then, one magical day, the famed cloud of Sils Maria, a forewarning of inclement weather, spills up the valley.
“The typically great Binoche conveys a tantalizing mixture of confidence and unease as she considers her glamorous past and undetermined future.” (Eric Kohn, indieWIRE)
“Binoche leaves audiences with the same exhilarating feeling here—of having witnessed something precious and rare—answering the challenge of Assayas’ script by revealing a character incredibly closer to her soul.” (Peter Debruge, Variety)