Women Ascend With Uncertainty In 'Clouds Of Sils Maria'

April 9, 2015 9:03 PM

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"The play is an object," Val (Kristen Stewart) tells actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) in Clouds of Sils Maria while helping her rehearse for a role. "It changes depending how you look at it." One of the many impressive elements of Olivier Assayas' rich, remarkably intelligent film is how it explores every angle of its own story. It won't ever be mistaken for Inception, but Clouds is also a puzzle film, even if that's not evident on the surface. Its plot is relatively straightforward (though not entirely devoid of mystery); you won't need to guess and debate about what happened when and why. But it's nevertheless a work of many moving parts, one to take apart and put back together again repeatedly.

The bulk of the film is devoted to the relationship between Maria and Val, who is Maria's assistant. We meet them just as Maria, a renowned actress who has worked in the theatre as well as in films both prestigious and blockbuster, is on her way to accept a prize in Zurich on behalf of director Wilh...

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