Clouds of Sils Maria

Kristen Stewart co-stars with French actress Juliette Binoche in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, an ambitious art film that focuses on the complicated relationship between an aging actress and her young assistant. Stewart is so good in the film that she’s become the first American actress to win the French equivalent of an Oscar.

Valentine answering a cell phone: Yes, this is Maria Ender’s personal assistant.

Stewart plays Valentine, the do-everything assistant to Maria a popular middle aged actress played by Juliette Binoche.

Valentine: Klaus Diesterweg is here to see you.

Maria: I already told him no.

Valentine: He’s a great director. Just hear him out.

Valentine wants Maria to take on a role in a play about a middle aged woman who falls in love with a manipulative young woman who serves as her office assistant.

The trouble is that 20 years ago Maria starred in this same play as the young office assistant, Segrid, and now the director wants her to play the older woman, Helenore.

Maria: I played Segrid when I was 18. For me it was more than a role.

Director: Segrid and Helenore are one and the same person. Because you were Segrid, only you can be Helenore.

Maria reluctantly accepts the part but wonders who will play the conniving Segrid. That would be Chloe Grace Moretz as a wild and destructive 18 year old who’s been starring in mainstream movies.

Young actress (on TV): I will play the one who drives her to suicide.

When Valentine rehearses lines from the play with Maria, it’s obvious that the director wants us to see parallels between their relationship and the relationship of the characters in the script they’re acting out.

Valentine (reading lines): I don’t think it’s company figures that are keeping you up at night.

Maria as Helenore: What’s keeping me up then?

Valentine: Desire, for me, I think.

Predictably, the actual rehearsals don’t go well.

Maria to young actress playing Segrid: You leave without looking at me… as if I didn’t exist.

Young actress: So, so what?

CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA tells an absorbing well acted story about the difficulty this middle aged actress has accepting the fact that she is no longer young and about how Kristen Stewart’s character pushes Maria to recognize that fact.

Unfortunately, the movie is overly intellectual about these ideas and even a little pretentious.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.