NZIFF: My Top Tips of French-Speaking Movies #3 Clouds of Sils Maria

I’m cheating a bit here: I’m talking about a French Film which has been shot in English. English-Speakers, you’ve got no excuse to watch it, there won’t be any subtitles 🙂

Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas

*A Touch of Grace*

What’s it about?

Maria Enders, a very famous cinema & stage actress is confronted to unavoidable middle-age issues. Her dearest friend and first supporter, playwright Wilhelm Melchior dies. On top of that, stage-director Klaus Disterweg offers her to perform again in the play that made her successful. This time, however, she would be given the role of the fragile mature woman and not the one of the young female lead anymore. Jo-Ann Ellis, an up to date starlet, will replace her younger self. Maria hesitates for a while before saying yes. Finally, she sets up in the Swiss Alps to rehearse her lines with her assistant, Valentine. Will these splendid landscapes soothe her tormented soul?

Why do I like it?

  • Metafilmic thoughts:

Play-in-the-film seems to be a very fashionable topic! Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, took us behind-the-scenes of Broadway & won the Academy Award for Best Picture in February. With Clouds of Sils Maria, we are transported as well into the preparation of a play. We’re not far from Opening Night and All About Eve: Olivier Assayas tells us the perpetual story of female rivalry. Maria Enders is full of  jealousy when faced with her younger replica.

The eternal beauty of the Alps Summits counterbalances the tragic theme. This film appears as a subtle renewal of the subject. You’ll love Assayas’ contemporary approach.: he doesn’t forget tabloids scandals and youtube videoclip, neither superheros! The parallel with Birdman is obvious.

  • Not-to-be missed by nature lovers & cinema fans.

I’ve always been fascinated by male artists depicting feminine souls. How do they know? How can they see through us? Olivier Assayas is part of these experts. He can feel our multiple female emotions, and more than that, he can direct them beautifully. Juliette Binoche is splendid in the role of the mature actress; Kirsten Steward (Valentine) performs her role so good that she has been given the Cesar (French National Cinema Award) of the supporting actress for this film, and young Chloë Grace Moretz is obnoxiously gorgious as stupid raising star.

That’s why, even if Assayas deals with a recurrent topic, Clouds of Sils Maria ends up being a very absorbing film. Landscaper of souls and master in filming the eternal beauty of the Swiss summits, Oliver Assayas is really one of our most talented directors.

An interview of the director for more information:

Sally Welly

2 responses

  1. Juliette Binoche proves here that she is one of the most talented actress in her generation.

    Also worth to be seen for another great actor Maloja Snake.

    • I’m glad you mention the Maloja Snake. It’s one of the nature’s marvels of the movie. The longest snake in the world is nothing other than a long white cloud – than Aotearoa itself? 🙂

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