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Clouds of Sils Maria [2014] dramatically reflects on fact, fiction, commercialism, and artistry—all of which are utilized by writer/director Olivier Assayas, who waltzes through his story with no cares other than his actresses (you’ll never believe how well pop culture whipping girl Kristen Stewart has turned out) and his statement. Stewart costars as the personal assistant of Juliette Binoche, a terrifyingly focused actress who is watching her legacy be usurped by the next generation of thespians: especially Chloe Grace Moretz, as the sexy and unholy superstar who is looking to be her unofficial artistic heir.
A vintage taste. Let’s be honest: the film’s IMDb page probably updated its box office stats when I bought my ticket. This movie has been very under-viewed. Assayas, who has enjoyed a prolific career in France, displays his affinity for absorbing and interpreting past masters, and with that has come, an artistic integrity that spells financial doom. This film contains no frames that fail to serve plot or character in some way or another and watching it is satisfying, but very slow work.
Actors act. It’s another movie about actors struggling with roles, but nobody displays the difference between a character and a character in character like Binoche, who piles layer upon layer on her performance and still keeps things understated. Meanwhile, people will continue to accuse Stewart of impersonating an ice shelf, but like an ice shelf, there is a great deal of tension underneath her static façade. And Moretz seems to understand her own generation as well as the best future psych-historians who will look back on us: she satirizes herself without settling for mere parody.
Pretension or irony? It’s difficult to tell if this movie is stuffy, or if it’s simply about stuffy people. Binoche’s character is certainly the epitome of a suffering artist, and director Assayas probably agrees with everything she’s saying, but Stewart is a kind of foil, as a laid-back modern young adult of the Apathy Era who nevertheless gets along with Binoche swimmingly. If the film is trying to separate itself from its high-strung first-world-problem protagonists, it does so imperfectly.

Ideal for viewers who have a passion for the arts and are wide awake.

Clouds of Sils Maria
4.5Overall Score
Reader Rating 2 Votes