“Clouds of Sils Maria” is a beautifully layered film with smart, strong yet vulnerable characters that’s absolutely mesmerizing. – Kim Rescate
“Clouds of Sils Maria” is about acting, aging, and relationships. It gives the viewers a glance at what actors face and the insecurities they struggle with when preparing for complex roles. It’s an interesting study of female relationships and the boundaries of professional relationships.
Juliette Binoche’s character Maria Enders was propelled to stardom in a play and film titled “ Maloja Snake” by writer-director Wilhelm Melchior. In those productions, she played Sigrid, a young woman who had an affair with an older woman Helena and eventually drove her to destruction.
Twenty years later, while Maria is traveling with her personal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) from Paris to Zurich, Melchior passes away. She was approached by a young director, Klaus Diesterweg (Lars Eidinger), to act in a stage revival of “Maloja Snake.” This time she will play Helena.
Maria refuses to play the older role because in her eyes, (and let’s be honest here, in Hollywood’s eyes) it means that her spotlight is dimming away. She refuses to see the production from any other place aside from the interpretation of her young self.
Towards the end of the film, Val and Maria are shown hiking to see the Maloja Snake, a meteorological phenomenon for which this fictional film and play are named. The view of the phenomenon, like “Clouds of Sils Maria” and the production “Maloja Snake” changes perspective based on where you’re standing.
Throughout this film about a play, the line between art and reality blurs and dialogues bleed between the play and real life. During line-reading scenes, the play’s script almost too perfectly connects with the events occurring around them. It’s easy to assume that Maria and Val are faced with the same sexual attraction between Sigrid and Helena. There are even moments in the film where it truly feels like the actors are talking about their real feelings and conflict of being a celebrity.
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz.
MPAA rating: Rated R for language and brief graphic nudity.
Running time: 124 minutes