What an improvement this was on second viewing. Binoche is absolutely incredible here. She plays an actress that is starring in a revival of the play that made her famous. Chloe Moretz is fantastic for what she is in. I have never been that impressed by her in a film before, but she is truly great here. Moretz’s character is playing alongside Binoche in the play. She is filling the shoes of the character that Binoche previously played. As time goes on, Binoche’s demons come out and we get to see some of her best work yet.
Kristen Stewart plays Binoche’s assistant. She is absolutely fantastic here. She has truly proven herself as a great actress the past year. The best parts of the film are getting to watch the two of them go in and out of acting when rehearsing lines. The heated arguments the characters are having in the play apply to their relationship. These scenes are truly thrilling and really pulled me into the film for the time being. On first viewing, I found these scenes to be quite tedious. They are quite lengthy and take up a large part of the film. These scenes are quite dense. We find out about the characters more than we think we are. The screenplay is filled with nuances and comments about the characters. As I picked up more on second viewing about the characters, I began to figure out which conversations are part of the play and which are not.
As Stewart and Binoche practice more and more, we slowly get to see Binoche’s demons come out. The relationship between the two begins to decay. I found their relationship to be forced though. It just seems like they are together and going through these issues because Assayas does not know how to further Binoche’s development. It’s not a huge issue because the two have fantastic chemistry with each other.
The biggest problem with this is how jam packed everything is. Assayas packs in so many little side stories into the film. There was no reason to spend five minutes on Binoche and Stewart taking a long route out of the woods and taking a bus back. The film has way too many names floating around. When Stewart and Binoche are talking they are constantly throwing around names with very little context to who these people are. Assayas is in love with the cinematography of the film. It feels like Assayas was flaunting the gorgeous cinematography from Yorick Le Saux. There are some needlessly excessive shots of the mountains throughout the course of the film. Despite the aforementioned flaws, Clouds of Sils Maria is still one of the best films I have watched from this year so far.