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Clouds of Sils Maria

The first I heard of Clouds of Sils Maria was the news that Kristen Stewart won the French version of the Oscar (the Cesar) for her supporting role in it, the first American ever! I just saw the film and I am scratching my head. Not that she is bad, but it just isn’t a standout role, even for her. And lest you assume she speaks French, which would be a feat worthy of a prize, the film is mostly in English with leading lady Juliette Binoche slipping into her native tongue on just a few subtitled occasions. The film is the story of the evolution of a relationship between a famous actress Maria (Binoche) and her young assistant Valentine (Stewart) as they rehearse for a revival of the play that started Maria’s career. It is an arty movie, somewhat Bergman-esque. There is a LOT of subtext and the line between the play and their real life becomes blurry at times. There are also beautiful moments and poignant scenes. And while everything is not spelled out, it is a thought-provoking look at the way our perspectives change with time.