Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014): Switzerland/Germany/France

Reviewed by Claire Waterhouse. Viewed in Hollywood at the AFI Fest 2014.

Clouds are what loom above us and they cover much of what is in the sky. Clouds both shield and block us from being able to see what lies ahead and in this film and our main character, Maria (Juliette Binoche) is also blinded, but instead by love and confusion. As the film goes on, Maria becomes more lost and struggles to choose who and what she wants in her life. Maria is an actress who once lived in the spotlight from a role which would later come to define and unintentionally shape her own life. The film is set in present day and takes place mainly in Sils Maria as well as London from time to time. It centers around Maria and her personal assistant, Val (Kristen Stewart) and their complicated relationship which later becomes intertwined with the script for the sequel for the film that gave Maria international recognition twenty years prior. Maria is reluctant to accept the role of her  character as she is struggling with aging and is confused with that she wants out of life. Clouds of Sils Maria is directed by Olivier Assayas, a director who is known for his complex and intriguing film and this one does not disappoint in the least. The scenery is breathtaking and nature often becomes overpowering,  almost sweeping up Maria and Val as they explore the countryside. The acting is phenomenal and often dialogue is so fast paced at times, you begin to wonder what is scripted as well as question what is real and how these two people feel about each other. There is a chemistry between the two characters and their relationship keeps us guessing. Clouds of Sils Maria reminds me of Breathe in terms of the complicated relationship dynamics although differing in their attitudes towards each other. The film focuses on Maria’s life and when we are introduced to the actress (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is set to play the role she once placed we are given an in depth look at the industry and life of fame, both in its beginning and later stages. The film is set up like a theatre production and is split into parts. Not only does this separation gives us the feel of watching a play, but the dialogue itself and the way we see the characters feels as though we are watching them on stage. The characters instead of unwinding as we begin to know them, only prove to become more complex and unreadable as the story goes on. This film captures life, life in the media as well as out, relationships, ideas of relationships and is an incredible two hours of cinema. It will keep your eyes fixated on the screen and longing for more.

About this entry