Frenchman Olivier Assayas writes and directs a tale of one woman’s harsh reality in facing down her fleeting youth via the acting roles she is being offered after performing for over 20 years – in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA.

After the death of famous playwright Wilhelm Melchior, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoch) finds herself longing for her esteemed colleague and, as it turns out, ex-lover. When the newly renowned playwright Klaus Diesterweg (Lars Eidinger) decides to revive one of Wilhelm’s plays – he decides he cannot have anyone but Maria play the role of Helena, even though she played the younger role of Sigrid in this particular work, many years ago.

Maria is torn on playing the “older” part, as she still identifies with the role of the young and beautiful Sigrid, as she finds herself wanting to hold onto her past, rather than face her maturing future. Persuaded by her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to consider the role, the actress and her assistant set out to escape to the Wilhem’s home in the Alps, to run through the lines of her new role.

Hoping to spark in Maria her maturity and acting prowess that have lead her to become the world renowned actress she is, Valentine works tirelessly helping Maria nail the part. When Valentine exposes to Maria who the role of Sigrid is going to be played by ~ the famously notorious, outlandishly crazy, yet strikingly beautiful American actress Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz) ~ it is almost too much for Maria to endure.

Maria tries to get out of her contract to play the insidious role of Helena, but to no avail, so what’s a girl to do but to move forward and accept the fact that maybe she is more suited to play the “older role”, and maybe this is an opportunity to show “the youngster” a thing or two about what being a real actress is all about…or maybe not!!!

I give the CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA 1 out of 5 stars: It saddens me to give this film such a low rating as I love Binoche, and her performance, along with Moritz’s, periodically attempted to light up the screen for a few fleeting moments. But between the excessive slowness of this film, and the mundane and unexpressive acting once again from Stewart, the CLOUDS of SILS MARIA made me want to just settle in to faire un somme (take a nap in French). . Don’t get me wrong, there are some exquisitely majestic views as Maria and Valentine work on the play script in Sals Maria, in the midst of the Alps, but that is where the glimpses of beauty end for this film. It was so slow, and so lifeless, that quite a few of the viewers at the advanced screening walked out before this film was over, which is never a positive, no matter how you look at…

Kathy Kaiser

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