Clouds of Sils Maria: This film gives ‘art films’ a bad name

Published: January 28, 2016
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So after hearing so much praise for months, I finally had the chance to see Clouds of Sils Maria; a film which was a festival darling and stars Juliette Binoche. As the film begins, it slowly comes as a realisation that it is more in love with its content than telling an actual interesting story.

After being offered to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous 20 years earlier, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) goes back to her past – to the celebrity lifestyle that she despises so much – along with her assistant, Valentine played by Kristen Stewart.

Director Olivier Assayas has clearly made better works in his native French language because this is definitely not the pinnacle of his talent as a director. Other than Binoche trying ever so hard to inject life into this dull picture, the wooden performances from everyone else are mind-bogglingly godawful, including Kristen Stewart’s mumbling dialogue delivery. A story which solely works on writing and performances, none of it lives up to its promised expectations.

Clouds of Sils Maria is nothing more than an ostentatious All About Eve which tries to poke fun at other Hollywood genres and lifestyles but has absolutely no substance of its own. Why would one sympathise with the protagonist if she is just as bland as the celebrity lifestyle that it is trying to make fun of? Does one really want to witness the woes of being an aging actress who lacks a compelling soul herself?

The story gives no reason for the viewers to be invested in the characters or the circumstances throughout its two-hour runtime and is a reminder that a film with just conversations is only good when it has something interesting to say. Although I personally hate this term, this film gives ‘art films’ a bad name.

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