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Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). Photo was supplied.
Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). Photo: Supplied

Losing relevance

Meta text Clouds of Sils Maria explores the theme of transformation through the layered looking glass of actresses whose reality is closely related to that of their characters’.

For those who have never cared much for Kristen Stewart: watching her in the role of Valentine, a character deeply suited to her monotone decibels and low tolerance for nonsense; brings a newfound respect for the actress whose adolescent blockbuster days under movie franchise Twilight has equipped her for unique insight into this supporting role.

Valentine (Stewart) is veteran actress’ Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) loyal personal assistant. The story lifts off when Maria is offered a part in theatrical reappraisal of Maloja Snake, the play that made her famous as a teen, only this time she’ll be playing the ‘older woman’ opposite a smug up-and-comer (Chloë Grace Moretz); whose antics closely resemble the former public life of Kristen Stewart or more dramatically, Miley Cyrus.

Echoing the premise of American television series Nashville, the film explores the themes of ageing, culture; power and seduction as established artists struggle to find and re-find their place in an ever-evolving industry. These are stories that encourage the viewer to embrace transformation, uncover humility and have the courage to accept the decline from A-list star.

The transition from lead actress to supporting, strength to weakness plagues Maria Ender’s mind as she struggles to come to grips with a generation whose values have evolved beyond that which she can understand. While Valentine presents the case for her generation’s seemingly shallow ideals, Maria is forced to confront the reality she’s losing relevance and embrace the disturbing flaws of the character she’s been commissioned to portray.

An acting triumph for both Binoche and Stewart whose chemistry is palatable, Clouds of Sils Maria is a thin line between the lives of the actresses on screen and off as three story lines: reality, the film and the play within the film; converge to make comment on the currency of talent in relation to age.

Ashley Thompson

Clouds of Sils Maria won the Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film in December 2014 along with six César Award nominations in which Kristen Stewart was the first American actress to be nominated and win a César for a best supporting actress. The film is scheduled to be released across Australian cinemas 7 May 2015.

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