By Gary Murray

Starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz

Written and directed by Oliver Assayas

Running time 124 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Forget it!


Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz are three of the greatest actresses working today.  Between the three of them, they have generated billions in box office success.  Love them or hate them, everyone has to agree that they are a triumph with the masses.  All three of them appear in the new film by Oliver Assayas Clouds of Sils Maria.

The story is told in three parts.  The first part takes place on a train.  Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is an actress who has had a successful long vocation as a performer.  She has been tasked to accept an award for the writer/director who started her career.   He is a recluse who has been writing dark plays   

Kristen Stewart plays Valentine, her young assistant.  The woman is a bit frumpy but much focused on keeping Maria in the loop of social media.  She balances the bigger outside world with the very inner world of Maria.

Chloe Grace Moretz is a hot, young actress Jo-Ann.  She has been cast in a revival of a play that started the career of Maria.  The producers want Maria to return to the play but as the role of the older woman.  That means that Maria has come full circle in her career.  She is a bit taken aback to be offered the ‘old’ role. 

Then she finds out that the playwright has died.  This is a devastating blow for Maria.  To have a man who has crafted her career is now gone and she has to reevaluate her life.

The bulk of the film takes place in the Swiss Alps where Maria is working on her lines with Valentine.  We know that it takes place some time later because Maria has a new shorter haircut.  Maria is spewing the lines of the older, love-broken lesbian while Valentine is becoming a personification of the young vixen.  The more the two read lines, the more of a dynamic between the two women emerges.  But are they reading lines or is there something more to their reading?

The last part happens when the play is being performed and the realization that her life has gone full circle.  Maria is now the character of the desperate older woman and a new generation of actors has taken over the world.

This film is navel gazing to a high degree.  This is the kind of pretentious overwrought work that only the faux intelligent find fascinating.  Over and over again, director Oliver Assayas shows us exactly what we believe, that actresses are a pretentious lot of spoiled over pampered babies. 

Of the three leads, only Juliette Binoche shows any fire.  It might because she is the lead and it might be because she the most senior of the three.  Either way, she gives the more interesting performance of our actress guild.  Where usually Chloe Grace Moretz gives some fire to a role, this is the most pedestrian of performances.  One wants to see her grow up into more sophisticated roles, but more along the lines of Elizabeth Taylor not Lindsay Lohan.  Kristen Stewart may never recover from Bella. 

Art house films have always had a degree of being ‘better than you’ when playing in the theaters.  Clouds of Sils Maria does not fit that mold.  This is one best missed. 

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