FilmReview

Review: Kristen Stewart Finally Gives a Great Performance in Olivier Assayas’ ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’

Wesley Emblidge ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Kristen Stewart and
Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria Photo Credit: IFC Films

Olivier Assayas’s films have always featured many languages overlapping, but with Clouds of Sils Maria, featuring American stars like Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz (as well as the French Juliette Binoche), this is the closest he’s ever come to making his English language debut. The French filmmaker has been working since the ‘80s all the way up to 2013’s excellent Something in the Air. Many have called Sils Maria a spiritual sequel to his 1996 film Irma Vep, which focused on the clash of cultures and talents during a the production of a French remake of Les Vampires. Here Assayas again turns the camera towards the entertainment industry, while throwing in elements of psychosexual drama and generational divide that threaten to explode at any moment.

Binoche plays aging actress Maria Enders, who is convinced to star in a revival the play that jumpstarted her career twenty years earlier. The show told the story of Sigrid, a young girl who seduces and manipulates her boss Helena, driving her mad and to suicide. At eighteen, Enders played Sigrid, but prodigy director Klaus Diesterweg (Lars Eidinger) wants her to play Helena, with the young controversial Hollywood starlet Jo-Ann Ellis (Moretz) taking on Sigrid. As Enders runs through her lines with her assistant Valentine (Stewart), the parallels between the play and her life come out and tensions come to a head. Oddly, it would make a nice double feature with Maps to the Stars, both in the ways the films play with Hollywood generations and how reviving old work can bring the past back to haunt you.

Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria Photo Credit: IFC Films
Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria Photo Credit: IFC Films

Binoche is predictably great, but the real surprise here is Stewart, who has been picking nothing but interesting projects lately and here finally finds the perfect fit. Assayas originally wanted Stewart in Moretz’s role, likely to play up the meta-elements, but she’s great as Valentine with a real deadpan sense of humor and completely holds her own (even at times overshadowing) with a talented veteran like Binoche.

Assayas’ film is very layered, in a way that demands repeated viewings (especially after a big shift in the third act). The Stewart fangirls who show up will be lost, but for anyone looking for a fascinating, tension-ridden drama, Clouds of Sils Maria is a perfect choice.

Overall Grade: B+

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4 Comments

  1. She FINALLY gives a great performance? What? She gave a great performance at thirteen, in Speak, another great (Oscar worthy) performance, at fourteen, in the Cake Eaters, another at 15 in Into The Wild, another at i6 in Adventureland, another at 17, in Welcome To The Rileys. another at 18 in On The Road, another at 23, in Camp X Ray. She has been described as “riveting”, “entrancing”, “electrifying, “a revelation”, etc, countless times. FINALLY, my foot!

  2. I agree. Twilight series ruined her career but gave the financial security to do whatever projects Kristen wants. What is unforunate, she is not considered for her body of work since the beginning of her career. She has staying powerunlike her peers in the Twilight franchise. They were Kristen’ s beneficieries. They too made a lot of money. It would have been nice, other than Kellun Lutz, if any one had said, while hokey, we all made money and were employed! Kristen Stewart is a talented actress.

  3. “The Stewart fangirls who show up will be lost”

    What kind of observation is that? What are suggesting? That her fans are illiterate teens?

    Let me, clarify a couple of things for you and your readers…

    First, most of her fans are NOT teens! Most of her fans are adults above 25. Wayyyy above 25…
    Please…The girl grew up, she is 25 now. So have her youngest fans. Although most of her worldwide fans are above 30.

    Her fans or are in college or are successful professionals (on all kind of field, including CEO and executives). A lot of them have MBA and are masters in their field. Also a lot of them speak more than one language.

    So… My friend, you are totally wrong. Her fans are super interesting people from all world. Great readers and avid movie goers of all age, colors, cultures and backgrounds. Thinkers.

    Has been a lot of misconception, prejudice and misogyny, thru the last 6 or 7 years, of who is this young actress and about the quality of her work history, that seems be forgotten by most of the people who write reviews. It is like as she had just started in the business in Twilight. The same happened with her fans.

    Loved your review.

    Sorry for my poor English. It is not my first language.

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