Last night, AFI Fest held a special screening for Oliver Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria, starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chlöe Grace Moretz. The film, shot on location in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, is a well-crafted piece visually. With three leading ladies, each in a different stage of their careers, this female-driven cast captivates and gently reminds us how perspective plays a large role in how we perceive the world.
Assayas’ script is clever. Throughout the story, scenes sinuate from the serious to the light-hearted. Sils Maria – as the film was originally titled – is a story about an aging actress dealing with the variable of time and the slow fade of her career. The actress, played by Juliette Binoche, enlists the help of a multitasking, hard-hitting personal assistant (Kristen Stewart) to not only sort out the business of being an actor, but also to provide companionship for a career so utterly isolated. Chlöe Grace Moretz plays a young actress who Binoche’s character once was. In an industry so polarized by double standards, Clouds of Sils Maria is a well-scripted reality that actresses in the field can relate most to.
The film seems to parallel the real-life lives of the actresses that play the characters, perhaps most notable in Kristen Stewart’s performance. Between the paparazzi, tabloids, and public breakups, Stewart is in her element. In context, she can talk about what she so desperately keeps hidden, which to much of the audience’s dismay, appears to be liberating for her. She isn’t the one in the spotlight, however, … she’s damage control. This film smartly criticizes the vanity of being famous, and sheds a new light on the art of acting and the blurring lines between character and self.
Kristen has poured her heart and soul into Clouds of Sils Maria. Her performance was unquestionably captivating, and finally something to give all those doubters a reason to shut their mouths. The Kristen Stewart from Into the Wild is back and ready to blow your mind.