Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)





Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloƫ Grace Moretz, Johnny Flynn, Lars Eidinger, Hanns Zischler, Brady Corbet, Aljoscha Stadelmann, Benoit Peverelli, Luise Berndt, Angela Winkler, Gilles Tschudi, Caroline de Maigret, Claire Tran, Jacob Kohn


At eighteen, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) played Sigrid, an alluring young woman who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide, the role that changed her life. More than twenty years later she is being asked to step into the other role, that of the older Helena. Rehearsing in Sils Maria with her assistant (Kristen Stewart), she finds herself face to face with an ambiguously charming woman who is an unsettling reflection of herself.


Talky and slow, Clouds of Sils Maria is a beautiful and delicate drama that witnesses the formidable duo Juliette Binoche-Kristen Stewart.

The film is a bit enigmatic, but a thing I can say for sure: this is a stunning character study. In particular, the film explore the intricate psychology of the main character, that has to face what everyone considers a great opportunity, but is traumatic to her and fills her with a sense of death, and despair. She will find herself dealing with her age, with time that passes, and with a role that will slowly blend with her persona. Alongside but opposed there is Valentine, Maria's assistant, that resembles a version of Maria when she was young. Lastly there's Jo-Ann, a young actress that respects Maria, but has a completely different personality.

A very interesting aspect of the film is the interlacing of the relationship of Maria and Valentine and the relationship of Helena and Sigrid. Sometimes the scene becomes cloudy, and it's difficult to say if the dialogue we are witnessing is reality or part of the play.

Having said all of that, the script has some flaws. In fact, some elements of the story seem random and disconnected with the rest of the story - e.g. the old actor, or the attempted suicide of the wife of Jo-Ann's lover.

The acting is first class. Juliette Binoche perfectly captures the anxiety of aging in a youth-obsessed society, and therefore gives a strong performance as Maria, that almost seems like a self-parody. Kristen Stewart is at her very best playing Valentine, a woman that seems tailored made to suit her own temperament. The actresses have a wonderful, electrifying chemistry together, and their bonding seems truly natural. Last but not least, Chloƫ Grace Moretz also captures her character's personality very well.


Valentine: It's theater. It's an interpretation of life. It can be truer than life itself.

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