Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Clouds of Sils Maria

     An intense  character study of women, art, celebrity and aging. This drama was a hit at Cannes. It features strong performances from it's three leads, Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chole Grace Moritz. Ms. Binoche, in particular, is mesmerizing as the aging star grappling with  her latest role.  Ms. Stewart gives her finest performance to date as Ms. Binoche's  harried personal assistant and confidant  (she won the French Oscar for supporting actress).

     The story borrows elements from "All About Eve" when Ms. Binoche's character is asked to  play the older woman against the younger role she played 20 years earlier. Ms. Grace Moritz is the actress cast as the younger woman in a battle of wills against her aging boss. 

       It's a play within a film. Art imitating life, imitating art and can be terribly confusing at times, especially in the many scenes when Ms. Binoche and Ms. Stewart run lines that blend into their reality. It's a dialog heavy film that ruminates about life on many levels. Don't expect a linear A to B story. Writer/director Oliver Assasyas has no interest in a straight line. He figuratively drops you into this world for a two hour voyeuristic journey and then it's over. The story meanders going nowhere. Even when a major character literally disappears late in the film, no explanation is given.

        The scenery of Sils Maria, Switzerland is breathtaking.  The clouds of the title form an unusual formation through the valley known as "the Snake" and it's the metaphor of the film.  It's beautiful to watch but eventually evaporates.

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