Oh Maria, Maria

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart

The film, Clouds of Sils Maria, could be the female version of Birdman although with different aspects of direction and without all the technicalities. However, the fable of a washed out actor getting old is an element both of the films share. In Clouds of Sils Maria, the story begins on a train as renowned actress, Juliette Binoche heads to Zurich with her personal assistant, Valentine. The Clouds of Sils Maria is mature and complex and engaging and brilliantly crafted. The life of the characters imitate the art in several ways including how Maria was forced to come to terms with her reality through the acceptance of a character that she’s not even thrilled about playing. There were also several scenes in which she was rehearsing lines with Valentine that kind of blur the line between the fantasy and the reality realms of the film. There were moments in which it was apparent that they were actually arguing and doing more than just simply reading the lines of a play. There were also conversations between the two about art and the art of movies itself making commentaries on cinema.

The film is rich with strong female characters that feel very authentic and exhibit real emotions. Clouds of Sils Maria can be a bit slow-paced and some scenes are rather tedious, but the experience is rewarding as we are brought along with the characters to and their exploration of the passage of time and coming to terms with it.

The film explored the pyschosexual realm of combining the paranoia that is exemplary of a film called All About Eve, and the existential crisis of an old actress is exhibited in Persona. Maria as she deals with the paranoia and existential crisis is encountered with an almost unbearable truth of slowly learning that the narrative isn’t really about her – or at least, she is in it, but her part is no longer as important as before.

The film is filled with brilliant performances that in my opinion, despite the movie already being good, still contributed greatly to the film’s success. Juliette Binoche has always been a wonderful actress, while Kristen Stewart was able to deliver so wonderfully even beside a well-known master in European cinema. What’s even more surprising is that, it’s not such an outcry to declare that Stewart even outshines Juliette Binoche in some of the scenes. Chloe Grace Moretz also delivers a stellar performance despite not having that much screen time. Everyone was on top of their game in a solid film that is worthy of all of its accolades.

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