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Clouds of Sils Maria: Is it Worth Your Money?

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image001Clouds of Sils Maria
Written and directed by: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Juliette BinocheKristen StewartChloë Grace Moretz
Official Synopsis: When she’s cast as the older lover in a romantic lesbian drama opposite an upstart young starlet (Moretz), an established middle-aged actress (Binoche) is overcome with personal insecurities and professional jealousies—all while sexual tension simmers between her and her personal assistant (Stewart). *

This movie was partially funded by Chanel and they also supplied the wardrobe, jewelry, makeup, and several fine product placements. So why does this matter? Well—it really doesn’t, but it sets me up for an analogy.

Much like the world famous brand, Clouds of Sils Maria is aesthetically pleasing; there are many beautiful shots of the Alps. In addition to these well shot landscapes, the cinematography is top notch thanks to veteran Yorick Le Saux (Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) Swimming Pool (2003) and director Olivier Assayas. I can’t argue against their ability to capture beauty on celluloid as they are true artists in that respect.

The problem is that, also much like Chanel, Clouds of Sils Maria is pretentious and superficial. The story is clearly trying hard to be surreal and full of meaning, but they go about it in a very obvious way. The plot of the play that is the subject of this film clearly runs parallel to the relationship between the Binoche and Stewart characters. The problem is that the parallels are so literal, it’s actually insulting. This movie reminds me of that kid in college who takes a philosophy class and all of a sudden likens himself to Aristotle. Basically, they mean well but really have no clue.

The women in this cast are getting a lot of praise for their roles in this film, especially Kristen Stewart. Well, unfortunately, I’ve yet to see her act. In fact, she’s even said in interviews that she plays each character as herself and that is very apparent. Moretz usually does an impressive job and certainly has a long career in front of her, but her performance here was lackluster. The one person who really delivered was veteran Juliette Binoche. Being the star of this movie she clearly carries it.

All in all I’d say Clouds of Sils Maria is not worth your money. It wasn’t awful, but completely and utterly forgettable. I wouldn’t watch it again, but didn’t really struggle getting through it. Catch it on IFC if you’re bored but I wouldn’t bother seeing it in theaters.

 

 

*Synopsis paraphrased from IFC Films press release.

 

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