May 23, 2014

'Couds of Sils Maria' Cannes Reviews and Reactions



Reviews:

From Telegraph

Kristen Stewart shines in her best role to date, in fearlessly intelligent drama Clouds of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas, shown at Cannes 2014, says Robbie Collin 
(...)
But it’s Stewart who really shines here. Valentine is probably her best role to date: she’s sharp and subtle, knowable and then suddenly distant, and a late, surprising twist is handled with a brilliant lightness of touch. 

From The Guardian 

(..) Stewart again demonstrating what a fine performer she can be away from the shadow of Twilight. Sitting down for dinner, in one telling scene, Val dismisses her boss as a snob and claims that blockbuster fantasies can be just as valid, in their way, as social-realist dramas set in factories or on farms. Maria arches a delicate eyebrow. Yet again, she's unconvinced.

From Vanity Fair:

In Oliver Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria, Kristen Stewart sticks it to anyone who ever slammed her for Twilight. 
(...)

It may be Chloe Grace Moretz's character, the outwardly bratty tabloid sensation Jo-Ann Ellis, who flips a middle finger at the camera, but it's the real Kristen Stewart, franchise-famous celebrity, who flips a middle finger at the critics in Clouds of Sils Maria. Olivier Assayas' thoughtful and intelligent meditation on acting, fame, and age doesn't just offer Ms. Stewart the best role of her life; it grants her a moment at center stage to lay out, in eloquent yet non-didactic terms, a defense of actors in the kinds of movies that sound a heck of a lot like Twilight.

While the meta moment fits snugly in the flow of this movie (and no doubt would work well with another talented actress delivering the lines) it's impossible not to imagine this as a K-Stew cri de coeur, a suggestion that those who have been slamming the Twilight films maybe should water down their haterade. Stewart gives a striking performance in Clouds. Her character Val, a personal assistant and rock of Gibraltar to Juliette Binoche's film and stage star Maria, is self-assured, crafty, honest, perceptive and even a little bit warm. It's a 180 from the dead-behind-the-eyes Bella Swan, yet there's the same flat delivery and crossed-arm presence. Here it radiates confidence, not Edward vs. Jacob indecision. Most of the film is just Stewart and Binoche in conversation, and Stewart more than holds her own. This film will fundamentally change your perception of this oft-mocked individual.

From AP

Playing an assistant to a famous actress, Kristen Stewart gave the Cannes Film Festival a self-referential and immediately acclaimed performance on the festival's final day.
(...)

From Little White Lies
(...)

To help her through this metaphysically trying time is assistant, Valentine, here played by Kristen Stewart, who delivers a performance of immense poise and texture, retaining good humour in the face of a full-time position which involves being locked in the professional mindset of another woman. Her character, replete with forearm tattoos, vintage band t-shirts and thick black-framed glasses, is one who initially seems like a satirical archetype of the carefree PR dolly, yet Stewart imparts an air of pensive solemnity, seldom exploding into grand, try-hard theatrics.

From THR

(...)
The majority of the film’s two hours is devoted to scenes involving Binoche and Stewart, sometimes with others but mostly alone, so for anyone who enjoys watching these two excellent actresses knocking it back and forth as their characters cope with the myriad issues surrounding a performing career, there is much to behold. This is definitely an insider’s view, looking at things not in a salacious way but as a consideration of the way such lives are led and how past associations continue to impact decisions made in the present. 

Binoche and Stewart seem so natural and life-like that it would be tempting to suggest that they are playing characters very close to themselves. But this would also be denigrating and condescending, as if to suggest that they’re not really acting at all. Their give-and-take and the timing of their exchanges, particularly in the rehearsal sequences, is wonderfully fluid and non-theatrical; Binoche works in a more animated register, which makes Stewart’s habitual low-keyed style, which can border on the monotone, function as effectively underplayed contrast.

From Variety

Val, the hyper-reliable young woman who serves as her minder, mother, therapist and rehearsal partner. It is Val who talks her nervous boss into doing the “Maloja Snake” revival, dragging Marie to a studio-produced superhero movie just to see Jo-Ann Ellis, the edgy young actress (Moretz) tapped to play the other part.

Running lines from the play, Marie and Val may as well be describing their own sexually charged codependency, so perversely does the dialogue fit the pair’s own increasingly unhealthy dynamic. At times, Val excuses herself to visit a photographer boyfriend (although a weird mountain-driving montage suggests she may simply need to get away when the connection becomes too intense), until finally, Val seems to disappear altogether, just one of the many mysteries woven into this rich and tantalizingly open-ended psychological study.

(...)

But Stewart is the one who actually embodies what Binoche’s character most fears, countering the older actress’ more studied technique with the same spontaneous, agitated energy that makes her the most compellingly watchable actresses of her generation.



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