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Cannes Film Festival 2014

Binoche’s acting talent peaks in Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas
Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas © Carole Bethuel

In her 40s and at a turning point in her life, actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche), goes back to her acting debuts and enters a struggle between her past and a present in Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria.

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The present is embodied by 20-somethings played by Kristen Stewart of Twilight and Walter Salles’s On the Road fame, and Chloe Grace Moretz of various horror movies fame.

Dossier: Cannes Film Festival 2014

Sils Maria is the name of a village in the Swiss Alps where Friedrich Nietzsche once sojourned and where Assayas takes Binoche through her paces - from suppressed depression to enlightenment.

As he does so, he films the magnificence of the mountains and low, sinuous clouds.

Coincidentally or not, like Dolan’s Mommy or Tommy Lee Jones The Homesman, this is a film in competition for this year’s Golden Palm with strong female leads.

A play within the film is about the relationship - love, desire, power - between two women.

The film has three heroines - Binoche the seasoned and famous actress, Stewart, the efficient accomplice/mirror with her finger on the pulse and Moretz, the young challenger.

All three actresses are versatile.

The crux of the mid-life matter in Clouds of Sils Maria is how Binoche/Enders willnegotiate the mountain path after reaching the summit.

The clouds - captured in this film by Yorick Le Saux - are a breathtaking revelation, unphased by climate change it would seem, or by the passage of time.
 

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