The first real professional success for famed French actress Maria Enders was twenty years ago as the co-lead in writer Wilhelm Melchoir's play and subsequent movie "Maloja Snake", he who picked Maria, then an unknown, personally. She played Sigrid, an opportunistic eighteen year old in an emotionally dependent lesbian relationship with forty year old Helena, who was at a vulnerable stage of her life. Maria has turned down the play's upcoming London revival in which she would now play Helena, it remounted by director Klaus Diesterweg. Her reasons for turning down the role are many including: being at a vulnerable stage of her own life going through a painful divorce; remembering the suicide of Susan Rosenberg, the original Helena, following the original run of the play, the suicide purportedly mirroring what happens to Helena; and the painful memories of the production in still having hard feelings toward who was her older male costar, Henryk Wald, with who she had an affair at the ...Written by
Kristen Stewart was offered the role of Valentine and wanted to accept, but a misunderstanding with her agent led to another actress (Wasikowska) being cast. Stewart reached out to rectify what happened and was offered the role of Jo-Ann Ellis, but was unsure. Wasikowska later dropped out and Stewart was officially cast as Valentine. See more »
In the opening, the characters are riding in what is clearly a second-class rail car. This would be completely out of character, given what we see later in the movie. See more »
Look, there! Is that the snake?
No. No, it's just mist. A little fog, when it breaks up.
It's still pretty beautiful, though, huh? It's like its gathering and pouring out into the valley. Maybe it is the snake. We have to be patient. No, it's not the snake. Oh, yes! I think it's turning into the snake. How 'bout you? Val? What the hell are you doing? Val? Val? Val? Val? Val? Come to me. Val? Val?
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During the closing credits, four of the actors are shown under the heading "guest appearance by". See more »
We witnessed the kinetic energy of the Oscar-winning Birdman about an aging actor making a comeback on the Broadway stage. Now with the expert and engaging Clouds of Sils Maria we witness a middle-aged actress, Maria (Juliette Binoche), contend with both her 20-year return to the same play but as the older character and the energy of a personal assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart), that reminds Maria of time's passage and the changes in her profession.
Writer/director Olivier Assayas delights us with stunning camera work in an early sequence on the train;Hitchcock would love the camera and editing if you remember Strangers on a Train. Assayas also features the Alps with such loving cinematography you'll be booking a trip. Credit Yorick Le Saux for the editing and Marion Monnier for cinematography.
The heart of an excellent drama such as this is its words, the best way to convey the complex emotions each actress must display. Besides Binoche's up-close glamour, Kristin Stewart's sassy, dark beauty is there to remind us that youth rules.
The screenplay offers advice about the changing nature of dynamic dialogue: "The text is like an object. It's gonna change perspective based on where you're standing." (Valentine). In the case of Maria and Valentine, the sometimes screwball-comedy-like repartee reveals layers of perception and emotion heightened by the fact that we are witnessing the deconstruction of the acting experience: Maria holds to classical interpretation while Valentine's thesis is that spontaneity and electricity are the key components.
The plot of Maria's accepting a stage role for a play she acted in 20 years ago as the young lead loosely parallels the scenario of this film (young assistant provoking the older actress) until a climactic moment on the mountain, a moment whose ambiguity will demand you complete the scene for yourself. Regardless, you will know you have seen one of the best films of the year depicting the rigorous working of the art of acting given by two of the best actresses today in film (Stewart won a Cesar for this role, Binoche won an Oscar for English Patient, and a mature Chloe Grace Moretz is sure to be Oscar nominated soon!).
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