Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria (TIFF 2014 Review)

Dir: Olivier Assayas

Clouds of Sils Maria is the latest from French auteur Olivier Assayas (Something in the Air, Paris, je t’aime). The film finds Juliette Binoche thoroughly engaged and in top form in a layered narrative that reflects on aging, art and how the two intersect. Binoche is Maria Enders, an actress in her middle years that came to fame as the lead in a play called Maloja Snake. She was once the seductive ingénue, in the play and otherwise, and is now asked to return to the play as the older female character who is blinded by her lust.

Kristin Stewart plays Maria’s assistant Valentine, and they both retreat to picturesque Sils Maria, Switzerland to prepare for the role. The plotline of Maloja Snake is mirrored in Maria and Valentine’s interactions, and the play and these women’s lives become increasingly intertwined.  With much hinted at but not shown, answers and meaning are illusive in the film.

In addition to this narrative trickery, Assayas references both Binoche and Stewart’s real-life personas to add another meta-layer to the story as a whole. The allusions and winking references are (more…)