A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The award-winning film of profound beauty and engrossing mystery from Olivier Assayas sets its sIghts high above the alpine peaks as it attempts to demonstrate a dramatic, artistic, but honest depiction of the life of a actress facing the inevitabilities of life.
Starring the wonderfully gifted Juliette Binoche and the questionable Kristen Stewart, “Clouds of Sils Maria” doesn’t quite conquer the mountainous aspirations it aimed to achieve; in fact it couldn’t even reach base camp…
Maria Enders (Binoche) is a glamorous actress who remains on the stardom map, but faces the challenges of being pushed aside as each day passes.
Faced with the offer of performing in a play she once starred in at the height of her career some 20 years ago, Enders, along with her personal assistant/agent Valentine (Stewart), suffers the impacting truths of the industry as nostalgia becomes clouded by forthcoming obsolescence.
Reflection, denial and stubbornness dominate “Clouds of Sils Maria”, as egotistical archetypes of the industry exchange words of praise to one another in an overly pretentious, almost satirical manner.
The film takes place in various locations and also consists of a number of languages, but ultimately, this film is nothing short of a disaster for a number of reasons.
Scene after scene consists of two actors attempting to rehearse a script and memorise lines. Not only do these scenes drag on painfully, the deliberate intention to confuse the audience in regards to what is acting, what is “acting” and what is real life gets disastrously skewed. The film lasts a full 124 minutes but feels at least 40 minutes longer, which is never a good thing…
“Clouds of Sils Maria” could easy have been trimmed back to 90 minutes, and even then it would feel like 120. The dialogue-heavy screenplay offers a lot of powerful messages about the industry and even life in general at points, but sadly, it infuriatingly pretentious and laughable throughout.
The jumping between English, French and German offers a mature and worldly insight into the European setting and subjects. This seems to be expected given the film is in fact a French-German-Swiss co-production, however the pretentiousness and ankle-deep intellect misses the mark in any langauge.
The film is absolutely driven by Juliette Binoche. She not only demonstrates her many talents on several layers, she hides the back brace required for carrying this film very well: her back must be sore…
The performance of Chloë Grace Moritz may very well be career-worst. It is highly uncomfortable to watch Moritz attempt to make something of the horrendous character that has been written for her, so there is a small sense of empathy I share with her.
Ultimately Moretz falls staggeringly short in her role and, by default, finds herself at the bottom of the barrel. You’re only as good as your last performance, right?
It’s nice to see Kristen Stewart undertaking many smaller roles post-Twilight, however after witnessing a big step forward in “Still Alice” (for Stewart’s standards), it’s a shame to say that she has taken three steps back in “Clouds of Sils Maria”.
Upon the careering motorcycle that is Binoche’s performance sits an ashtray that is Stewart’s….
The sole saving grace of “Clouds of Sils Maria” is the cinematography. The film exhibits the vast, sweeping landscapes of the Swiss Alps in breathtaking fashion, so much so it’s almost worth seeing in the cinema for that reason alone.
Thankfully, the establishing shots of most scenes dominate the screen time, staying well pat their welcome in most cases. “Clouds of Sils Maria” seems to be a film that was somewhat saved from the beautiful setting which offers some momentary spectacle to pass the time along.
“Clouds of Sils Maria” aims to impress with its boldness and ambition. It tries to underlay a “Sunset Blvd.”- inspired story with a series of landscape shots taken out of an Attenborough documentary. Juliette Bincohe steals the show in her leading role, but given the supporting efforts, it wasn’t an overly challenging task. Underdeveloped, poorly written and dismally executed charters only serve to further the talents of Binoche.
Perhaps this is “Maps to the Stars” all over again and I have failed to see the intelligently masterful picture that was right in front of my eyes.
I do enjoy being proven wrong by a film the second time around, but this is one I’ll be staying well away from for the time being…