“Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014) – Review by Clay Bloodworth
‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ precise and beautiful
“Clouds of Sils Maria”, the latest work from auteur director Olivier Assayas, is one of those films that leaves a deep impression. It’s warm and intimate in ways movies simply aren’t anymore, and the characters in it are the same way. Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart – who play the ones we so closely get to know – are simply wonderful together, possibly being the most interesting duo you’ll see on screen all year. These people aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, or show their idiosyncrasies, and that’s precisely what makes them so human and comforting. It’s a movie that I got lost in (in a good way) and gravitated towards immediately.
Binoche plays one of the most renowned actresses in Hollywood, having starred in a seminal play and film based on the same material that made her career twenty years earlier, but is now confronted with starring in a new stage production of that same play. She’s hesitant, but excepts the challenge, and the film centers around her struggle to deal with the difficult script that she hasn’t visited in so long, and her looming age over everything she does. That, along with the fascinating relationship she has with her assistant (Stewart), which quickly becomes the focus.
Both of these women are charming beyond belief, spending the good majority of their screen-time together, and their constant rapport is one of the main reasons why I liked the film so much. Of course, you have breathtaking cinematography and a really distinct directing style from Assayas, but these characters are unmatched. We don’t simply get acquainted with them, we know them. It’s an immediate thing from the first few scenes alone. Each moment flows so beautifully to the next, and the precision is something to marvel at. That, in a nutshell, is why I found it to be so brilliant. “Clouds of Sils Maria” is now playing in limited release.