Clouds of Sils Maria Movie Review
Clouds of Sils Maria is a well-received drama that has shown up on quite a few mid-year top-ten lists, despite the fact few regular moviegoers have even heard of it. There’s a reason. Starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz, Clouds of Sils Maria is a solid experiment--but one that doesn’t live up to the hype.
The movie largely follows Binoche, playing an internationally acclaimed actress, and her assistant (Stewart), as they prepare for a challenging performance in a stage play. Things are complicated as the line between reality and fiction are blurred--it becomes increasingly unclear whether you’re watching the story, or the story within the story.
Clouds of Sils Maria is well-written and superbly directed, with cutting, direct dialogue and blunt cinematography/editing that is refreshingly artsy without appearing as such. Written and directed by Olivier Assayas (Carlos), the movie is interesting to watch from a filmmaking perspective--it’s no real surprise why cinephiles and certain critics have been drawn to it.
The three actresses, Binoche and Stewart in particular, are very good. I’ve always been a fan of non-Twilight Stewart and she proves once again that she’s a talented actress here, although I wasn’t blown away by her performance like I expected to be, given that she won Best Actress at the Cesar Awards.
Despite all its strengths, Clouds of Sils Maria relies on subtleties and nuance, and whether I was simply not in the mood or the details went over my head, the movie never entirely clicked for me. The movie has a strong middle section, but is book-ended by opening and closing segments that drag to some degree.
Clouds of Sils Maria is a good movie--and one I may revisit in the future for a second chance--but it’s hard to envision this one appealing to general audiences.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.