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The Clouds of Sils Maria

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, actress, spar over Kristen Stewart, celebrity, in the latest from Olivier Assayas.


Olivier Assayas (France/USA, Special Presentations)
4 Stars

Dipping again into the metafictional waters of Irma Vep, Olivier Assayas delivers the ultimate in Kristen Stewart fan appreciation with The Clouds of Sils Maria. Stewart plays Valentine, personal assistant to major film and stage actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche). When the director behind her first starring role as an ingenue dies, Maria finds herself in talks for a new adaptation of the play, in which she is cast as the older, jilted lover of her former character Sigrid, a change that strains her relationship with the young Valentine as the women work through, absorb, and reflect the script.

Binoche and Stewart are terrific as the colleagues and sparring partners. Stewart is particularly magnetic in a tricky role that doubles as an essay on her own celebrity; she makes great hay out of Valentine’s defence of the vulnerable performances the new Sigrid (Chloë Grace Moretz) gives in trashy blockbusters with werewolves. If Assayas’s script is guilty of clumsily over-annotating its themes, one still marvels at his poise: it takes a master to make material this heady go down so easily.

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