Movie City News:
Her sidekick is her assistant. And that’s when the movie gets interesting, because not only is the sidekick reflecting the actress’ ideas about youth, but she is played by Kristen Stewart, who aside from the details of “the play,” is in real life the living embodiment of a Juliette Binoche of 25 years ago. So every exchange is steeped in the reality, even if Stewart is playing an assistant in the film.
Stewart’s character is filling multiple roles, symbolically, here. But the one as a reflection of what Moretz’s character may wake up to in a few years, the next even more aggressive/abusive/self-trapped person behind her, closing even faster.
I have had the opportunity to chat with Kristen Stewart a couple times before Twilight and a couple of times since. I have never felt like the genuine person is being hidden. There is a lot going on in her world… and she has been tardy… and she seems genuinely unhappy being poked at by those near her and at a distance… and she may even be a brat at times, don’t really know. But I like the person I’ve met. And I like this performance as much or more than anything I have seen her do. She reads as the person I have met, having been given that room by the screenplay and Assayas, and Binoche. It often feels like a beautifully lit document of two women to whom ideas are important, who respect each other, and who are worldly, each at very much their own age.
Little White Lies:
To help her through this metaphysically trying time is assistant Valentine, here played by Kristen Stewart who delivers a performance of immense poise and texture, retaining good humour in the face of a full-time position which involves being locked in the professional mindset of another woman. Her character, replete with forearm tattoos, vintage band t-shirts and thick black-framed glasses, is one who initially seems like a satirical archetype of the carefree PR dolly, yet Stewart imparts an air of pensive solemnity, seldom exploding into grand, try-hard theatrics.
Assayas is a master of fluent, even sinuous, film-making. Although in its way yet another film about film-making, it’s also about the power and transience of youth. The French do it differently. They do it better.
Best Movie: (Google Translate)
If there is something like a cinematic collective unconscious, Clouds of Sils Maria is the closest thing to represent, and does so with stunning images and powerful (the serpent of clouds that runs through the valley and gives the title to the piece), precise dialogues and fun Two actresses bravissime (Binoche and Stewart, whose duet represent 80% of the film).
We're as surprised as anyone, but the major acting laurels on this particular occasion go to, wait for it, Kristen Stewart, who for our money delivers the better performance (and the film is mostly a two-hander between her and Binoche), and actually manages to make some of the thankless exposition and clumsy dialogue she’s given sound almost natural. Perhaps it’s because she’s playing a character that is not a version of herself--as much as the film comments on Stewart’s fame and peculiar type of celebrity, it does so largely through the medium of the Jo-Ann character played by Chloe Grace Moretz, and so Stewart is free to just play a part and not navel gaze quite so much. In her guise as a personal assistant to a star, she can deliver observations about the nature of teen fandom and say stuff like “there are a shit ton of pre teens, so watch out” and we can all chuckle at the thought of the rabid 12-year-old ”Twilight” fanbase, but she is doing it from the safe distance of a role that is clearly differentiated from her, and in which she is natural and unforced.
Assayas is really more interested in the dynamic between Maria and Val (Kristen Stewart), the actor's personal assistant, who works her iPhone with one hand and her BlackBerry with the other. The relationship here is quite beautifully drawn, with Stewart again demonstrating what a fine performer she can be away from the shadow of Twilight. Sitting down for dinner, in one telling scene, Val dismisses her boss as a snob and claims that blockbuster fantasies can be just as valid, in their way, as social-realist dramas set in factories or on farms. Maria arches a delicate eyebrow. Yet again, she's unconvinced.
The majority of the film’s two hours is devoted to scenes involving Binoche and Stewart, sometimes with others but mostly alone, so for anyone who enjoys watching these two excellent actresses knocking it back and forth as their characters cope with the myriad issues surrounding a performing career, there is much to behold. This is definitely an insider’s view, looking at things not in a salacious way but as a consideration of the way such lives are led and how past associations continue to impact decisions made in the present.
Binoche and Stewart seem so natural and life-like that it would be tempting to suggest that they are playing characters very close to themselves. But this would also be denigrating and condescending, as if to suggest that they’re not really acting at all. Their give-and-take and the timing of their exchanges, particularly in the rehearsal sequences, is wonderfully fluid and non-theatrical; Binoche works in a more animated register, which makes Stewart’s habitual low-keyed style, which can border on the monotone, function as effectively underplayed contrast. Moretz is all high-keyed confidence.
But it’s Stewart who really shines here. Valentine is probably her best role to date: she’s sharp and subtle, knowable and then suddenly distant, and a late, surprising twist is handled with a brilliant lightness of touch.
It may be Chloe Grace Moretz's character, the outwardly bratty tabloid sensation Jo-Ann Ellis, who flips a middle finger at the camera, but it's the real Kristen Stewart, franchise-famous celebrity, who flips a middle finger at the critics in Clouds of Sils Maria. Olivier Assayas' thoughtful and intelligent meditation on acting, fame, and age doesn't just offer Ms. Stewart the best role of her life; it grants her a moment at center stage to lay out, in eloquent yet non-didactic terms, a defense of actors in the kinds of movies that sound a heck of a lot like Twilight.
While the meta moment fits snugly in the flow of this movie (and no doubt would work well with another talented actress delivering the lines) it's impossible not to imagine this as a K-Stew cri de coeur, a suggestion that those who have been slamming the Twilight films maybe should water down their haterade. Stewart gives a striking performance in Clouds. Her character Val, a personal assistant and rock of Gibraltar to Juliette Binoche's film and stage star Maria, is self-assured, crafty, honest, perceptive and even a little bit warm. It's a 180 from the dead-behind-the-eyes Bella Swan, yet there's the same flat delivery and crossed-arm presence. Here it radiates confidence, not Edward vs. Jacob indecision. Most of the film is just Stewart and Binoche in conversation, and Stewart more than holds her own. This film will fundamentally change your perception of this oft-mocked individual.
Ultimately, Stewart is the one who actually embodies what Binoche’s character most fears, countering the older actress’ more studied technique with the same spontaneous, agitated energy that makes her the most compellingly watchable American actress of her generation.
Delivering the film's most touching, textured performance, Stewart plays her gradual self-assertion beautifully, her signature underplaying building in light and shade, her sullen body language opening up as her co-star's turns appropriately tight and uncertain. There's a rueful twinkle, too, to her delivery as Valentine muses on the relentless pettiness of contemporary celebrity journalism. La Binoche isn't the only actress whose own career is under the magnifying glass here.
The Film Stage:
Stewart has been a strange property during her time in Hollywood, her talents as an actress mostly untested (or, better put, ignored) in the Twilight franchise, despite showing signs of promise in films like Adventureland and The Runaways. Val is a complex role in which the actress never loses her real-life persona, instead embracing it to develop a dynamic with Binoche’s more classically moved performance.
- djphilip: Sils Maria ( Assayas) : brillant film de cloture #Cannes2014
- HitFixGregory: Clouds of Sils Maria is the movie about Hollywood and our entertainment culture that Maps to the Stars wants to be. #cannes2014
- HitFixGregory: Kristen Stewart playing parallel upon parallel of her own life in #CloudsOfSilsMaria
- HitFixGregory: Kristen Stewart has never been more relaxed on screen than in #CloudsOfSilsMaria #cannes2014
- Jake_Howell: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA: among other generally positive things (I enjoyed it), Kristen Stewart's best role. #Cannes2014
- HitFixGregory: Screenplay for Clouds of Sls Maria is absolutely outstanding. So impressed. #CloudsOfSilsMaria
- GMarchiniCamia: Cronenberg/Wagner should watch CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA and take notes, Assayas could teach them heaps. #cannes2014
- passeurcritique: #SilsMaria #kristenStewart best role ever #Cannes2014
- FilmLandEmpire: SILS MARIA: Stagey but intriguing tale of inter-generational clash/desire/curiosity and art imitating life imitating art #Cannes2014
- FilmLandEmpire: Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart are brilliant in SILS MARIA, loved their interaction and acting chemistry #Cannes2014
- robbiereviews: Clouds of Sils Maria (Assayas): Rich, complex, teasing life-is-play, play-is-life meta-lark. Kristen Stewart particularly fab. #Cannes2014
- jhoffman: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA is smart & elegant. Basically all Binoche & Kristen Stewart, and K-Stew holds her own. Great role for her. #cannes2014
- ZeitchikLAT: Sils Maria is a movie about actors and the real-life world of Kristen Stewart starring Kristen Stewart as one of the new non-actors.
- TaybackX: SILS MARIA: Necessarily stilted with a layer of coldness that will most likely divide a lot of people Binoche/Stewart show this #Cannes2014
- TaybackX: The acting is great all around, Binoche and Stewart have several great dialogues that are sure barnburners. #Cannes2014 #silsmaria
- TaybackX: Definitely top five of #Cannes2014 , no question. #SilsMaria
- Daveyjenkins: SILS MARIA (Assayas) Very strong – nuanced and enigmatic echo-call to IRMA VEP with La Binoche on fire (not literally). #Cannes2014
- MatchCuts: SILS MARIA (A-): The mountains and molehills of artistic interpretation conducted to confront age, guilt, regret, and work. #Cannes2014
- MatchCuts: Never though I'd tweet this, but Kristen Stewart is fantastic, a sharp deconstruction of generation she has come to represent. #Silsmaria
- Jonfrosch_f24: Strong finish to #Cannes2014 with Assayas' captivating, playful, resonant Clouds of Sils Maria. Binoche+Stewart the odd couple of the year.
- jonfrosch_f24: As w/Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher, Kristen Stewart will have haters rethinking things after seeing Sils Maria. She is superb. #Cannes2014
- gemko: Clouds of Sils Maria (Assayas): 67. Relentlessly brainy, to the point where it's constantly interpreting itself. Really sharp, though.
- gemko: Also, Kristen Stewart is amazing in an incredibly tricky role. The temptation to do more than she does (fatal) must've been great. Brava.
- jamie_graham9: Sils Maria: many layered meta-fiction on life & art. Shifting perspectives & power dynamics. Kristen Stewart, Moretz & Binoche all v strong
- totalfilm: Clouds of Sils Maria; clever art vs life narrative & great performances from Kristen Stewart, Juliette Binoche & Chloe Grace-Moretz. #Cannes
- GunnarRehlin: Kristen Stewart är briljant i Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria.
- mmiedl: somebody is very much in love with Kristen Stewart. #CloudsOfSilsMaria #Cannes2014
- KarstenM: I really, really liked Assayas' CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA; a lil' chamber piece w/ wonderful acting by all involved, yet Stewart steals the show.
- _ann_lee: Clouds of Sils Maria: Cerebral and elegant dissection of art, celebrity and ageing. Great chemistry between Binoche & Stewart. #Cannes2014
- dunerfors: Believe it or not, the part fits Kristen Stewart perfectly. #SilsMaria #Cannes2014
- drjonty: The Clouds of Sils Maria is a modest meta-drama with a relaxed Binoche and accomplished Kirsten Stewart #Cannes2014
- gabrielecapo: Sils Maria: elegant mise an abîme on acting & life, but overlong & intellectually cold to a fault. Good duo Binoche-Stewart #Cannes2014
- notjustmovies: SILS MARIA reactions out of Cannes seem to justify the "Kristen Stewart is much better than you give credit for" drum I've beaten for years.
- labuzamovies: And yes K-Stew fans, she owns the role. Does so much with her gestural approach I was taken aback at her approach. Constantly inventive.
- SiFoulaReel: Excellent reviews from Cannes for Sils Maria & a certain actress who has long gotten undeserved stick for her abilities. AHEM, TOLD YOU SO.
- DavidPoland: Clouds of Sils Maria is the most Kristen Stewart of any role I have seen her play... funny, interested, thinking, demanding & shy. #Cannes
- GuyLodge: SILS MARIA: Interests right up my alley; I can't decide if treatment is too silly or not silly enough. Kristen Stewart easily best in show.
- seb_moore: Clouds of Sils Maria: rigorously intelligent, Kristen Stewart is biggest surprise, though. She's seriously good
- _Winter_wind: Ok, I've reached the decision, Sils Maria gets an A- w good performances, good bits and a good story directed right