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Kristen Stewart Shines in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA – Movie Review

By Melissa Frost

Oliver Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria, starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chlöe Grace Moretz, has generated a lot of buzz since its premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The film, shot on location in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, is a well-crafted piece visually. The female-driven plot, beautifully cast might I add, depicts each character in a different stage of their careers. Clouds of Sils Maria offers an important lesson in the art of perception and seduction.

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, known as Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche), enlists the help of a multitasking, hard-hitting personal assistant, nicknamed Val (Kristen Stewart), to not only sort out the business of being an actor, but also to provide companionship for a career so utterly isolated. When offered the role of the older character in a remake of the play that got her famous, Maria questions her ability to portray the character she grew to loathe. The passing of time isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t until the film is half over that we begin to see the play become Maria and Val’s reality.

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The film parallels 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 at bay, which to much of the audience’s surprise, appears to be liberating for her. “The paparazzi will be all over her;” “We beat the cockroaches;” “Pre-teens are all over that.” – are just some moments to name a few.

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. Perhaps the world should finally take notice of this young starlet’s acting chops like the French has; Kristen is the first American recipient of the prestigious César Award (the French equivalent to the American Oscar).

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