DVD Review – Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014)


The culture of the film goes hand in hand very well with one of the themes it explores in this film. Clouds of Sils Maria, a film about the lack of certain opportunities for actresses upon and beyond a certain age and I for one believe that is true, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Mortez as being actresses of that age group that they are looking into both of them have worked so hard to prove their more than “Twilight” or “Kick- Ass”.

This film was created by a push that didn’t come from the director Olivier Assayas but from one of these same actresses that’s looking for that push. Like Binoche herself, Maria Enders the person that she plays in this film who is an awards- decorated star in her own right famed for the art- house and the mainstream cinema roles alike.

As we see in this film, Enders is hesitant to return to the play that made her name so well known. In a film version of Maloja Snake an 18 year old Enders played the younger half of a dark May- September romance with an older women. Several decades on she is offered the chance of playing the older part of a “bitter,brittle older lover”.

Enders struggles to take on this part as she remembers the person who played it before her and what happened to her, she is also unsure how to interpret in a new fashion as herself playing the older role while also conceive it from a younger perspective when she played the other part. Binoche, in past interviews has openly said and I quote “the past….is only important to the extent that it can be mined to fuel the work of the present” and in a joint interview with Assayas, she would then go onto describe her approach to that subject.

I do use memories and moments that I’ve had in my life. I’ll use anything I can from my emotional baggage or previous actions. But that is only because the more experience you have the better you will get at it

One might see the mantra and think that the last sentence is more applicable to her co-star Kristen Stewart but it could also be linked to Chloe Grace Mortez as well. Stewart plays the role of Ender’s assistant, Valentine. Another actress was supposed to be taking on the role but due to scheduling conflicts she had to pull out, that actress being Mia Wasikowska.

If you want the truth from me, personally Mia is older than Kristen, but Kristen I personally believe is what I say suited and booted for the role especially when you see the chemistry on screen between Juliette and Kristen.

Kristen Stewart’s efforts in this film earned her a Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress, making this women the first American actress to win at France’s most prominent award show. One of Kristen’s comments backstage after her win would suggest that she wants to gain experience beyond what she has encountered on her travels in Hollywood and on the American Independent Scene and you can also see she is trying to break away for always being referred to Twilight.

Even when I get asked about this amazing women, I don’t say Twlight is the first thing that pops out my mouth now it would go along the lines of- America Ultra, Still Alice and Clouds of Sils Maria. From what I said in the previous statement this suggests that she would like to have a brilliant career like that of Binoche.

A far more interesting and diversely but not forgetting talented actress than her work in the Twilight franchise that people might suggest. Stewart’s presence in the film brings to the front one of several meta levels running throughout the film. One thing that stood out for me as I watched to film that Clouds of Sils Maria has characters that make various side remarks at the sort of pop franchise cinema that Stewart and other young Hollywood Scarlets (e.g Shailene Woodley with the Divergent Series and Jennifer Lawrence with the Hunger Games and the X-Men films) find themselves stuck in for yours on end.

Stewart’s Valentine character is defending the work of one particular young star Jo-Ann Ellis (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) within the confines of an x-men meets space opera blockbuster that she and Enders go and see ( has to be in 3D of course). Valentine’s words in these scenes are what prevent those parts of Clouds of Sils Maria from venturing into one of these sad films that have no ending.

Assaya’s vision of the role being shifted onto Kristen Stewarts interpretation is an good find of textual information to bring to the film, as much as Clouds of Sils Maria concerns rehearsal interplay between Enders and Valentine in which the former is locked into years of preconceived notions about the older women role she is now set to play and has put herself under so much stress and bother. She is now set to play this much older role in the revival, stubbornly rejecting and dismissing the much younger Valentine’s take on the material.

From what I saw when I was watching the movie Valentine does not see the older Helena role as pathetic at all, and understands what Maria does not understand, this is also bring fourth that different interpretations of the role that is being played to co-exist depending on one’s own experiences being brought to light. Valentine’s mid film defence of Jo- Ann Ellis as a worthy actress beyond her TMZ baiting after work antics is ‘cathartic in a way that resonates beyond the world of film.’

Because the lines are blurred between defence on the part of Valentine’s and it’s also bringing Stewart in commentary of her own regarding her own star persona.

The dialogue in this film is fantastic and all three main characters put that on the screen well. My only downside is the actual storyline itself, I thought it was going back and fourth quite a bit, some of the scenes could have done with a bit more explaining done to them.

Sarah Small

Drama | France, 2014 | Curzon Artificial Eye Film | 15 | 27th July 2015 (UK) |Dir.Olivier Assayas | Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moritz, Johnny Flynn | Buy:Clouds of Sils Maria [DVD]

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