Written and directed by Frenchman Oliver Assayas (Carlos the Jackal 2010, Something in the Air 2011) his latest film has received six Cesar Award nominations including best film, best director, best original screenplay and best cinematography with Kristen Stewart having the distinction of becoming the first American actress to win a Cesar by winning Best Supporting Actress.
The basic story of Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) has been compared to Joseph L Mankiewicz’s 1950 American melodrama All About Eve. Assayas contemporary version of the story is set mainly in Sils Maria located in a very beautiful part of the Swiss Alps. An ageing actress Maria Enders has been offered a part in a stage play she did twenty years ago by the 'must work for' theatre director Klaus Diesterweg, but this time she is offered the part of the older women, while her original role is to go to an up and coming American actress Jo-Ann Ellis who brings with her a reputation as a fire-brand. Maria, accompanied by her assistant Valentine (Stewart), retreats to Switzerland to practice her lines and get her head around the fact that she is far to old for younger role!
The wonderful Swiss scenery.
French actress Juliette Binoche, who has now appeared in over 40 feature films gives her usual accomplished performance as the ageing, but still attractive, Marie Enders. Kick-ass (2009) star Chloe Grace Moretz gives the character of Jo-Ann Ellis a Hollywood boost while German star Lars Eldinger (Was bleibt 2012) plays the stage director.
This in fact a very wordy film that come across as a stage play with real scenery, and one must be honest and admit that the scenery is stunning with great shots of the Swiss Alps accompanied by an appropriate classical soundtrack. But even allowing for the accomplished acting from Binoche and Stewart the movie can not hide its one main fault - it does becomes a touch boring with all the talking coupled with its two hour running time! I can't help feeling that Assayas is trying to be a little to clever jumping between the fiction and the fact and back to the fiction played out on the screen. It is for all sakes and purposes a fairly traditional story about coping and maintaining your identity, as you get older. The last thing I would want to do though is put you off seeing this movie, if for no other reason than to see Binoche and Stewart at the pinnacle of their art.
Some woman have natural class.