Clouds of Sils Maria
|Clouds of Sils Maria|
French theatrical poster
|Directed by||Olivier Assayas|
|Produced by||Charles Gillibert|
|Written by||Olivier Assayas|
|Cinematography||Yorick Le Saux|
|Edited by||Marion Monnier|
|Box office||$3.5 million|
Clouds of Sils Maria (known simply as Sils Maria in some territories) is a 2014 drama film written and directed by Olivier Assayas, and starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloë Grace Moretz. The film is a French-German-Swiss co-production. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on 23 May 2014, and also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival. It won the Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film in December 2014 and a best supporting actress César Award for Kristen Stewart in February 2015.
Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is a famous international movie star and stage actress. She travels with a loyal young American assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart). She owes her career to having been cast, 20 years earlier, in both the play and film versions of Maloja Snake by Wilhelm Melchior, a now elderly Swiss playwright. The play centers on the tempestuous relationship between a callous young girl ("Sigrid") and a vulnerable older woman ("Helena") who is eventually driven to suicide. While traveling to Zurich to accept an award on behalf of Melchior, and planning to visit him the following day at his house in Sils Maria—a remote settlement in the Alps—Maria learns of his sudden death. His widow Rosa later confides in her that Wilhelm's death was suicide and that he had been terminally ill. During the awards ceremony, Maria is approached by a popular theatre director who is trying to persuade her to appear on stage in Maloja Snake again, but this time in the role of the older woman.
Maria is torn and only reluctantly accepts. To prepare for the role she accepts Rosa's offer of the Melchiors' house in Sils Maria, which Rosa is leaving to escape her memories of Wilhelm. Maria's discussions with Valentine and their read-throughs of the play's scenes combine to evoke uncertainty about the nature of their actual relationship. A hot young American actress, Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz), has been chosen to interpret the role of "Sigrid", but her scandals are ubiquitous in Google searches, YouTube videos, and tidbits of contemporary cultural knowledge as relayed by Valentine to the somewhat out-of-touch, middle-aged Maria.
Questions regarding aging, time, culture and the thin line between the characters of the-play-in-the-film and those we are seeing on the screen multiply. Maria and Jo-Ann finally meet, but their relationship is complicated by yet another eruption of chaos in Jo-Ann's life (she has driven the German wife of her new British, novelist boyfriend to attempt suicide). Maria and Valentine spend much of their days hiking in the Alps and on a final such outing—to observe a mysterious early morning meteorological/geological phenomenon (the "Maloja Snake" of the play's title)—the disconsolate Valentine disappears without explanation. Six weeks later, the key to the resolution is offered by a young filmmaker who visits Maria by appointment five minutes before curtain on the opening night of Maloja Snake in London, but she seems preoccupied and dismisses the offering as "too abstract for me". The final scene of the film indicates however that the penny may have dropped…or not; she is on stage, smoking and waiting for "Sigrid" to pass through the offices collecting outgoing folders.
- Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders
- Kristen Stewart as Valentine
- Chloë Grace Moretz as Jo-Ann Ellis
- Johnny Flynn as Christopher Giles
- Lars Eidinger as Klaus Diesterweg
- Hanns Zischler as Henryk Wald
- Brady Corbet as Piers Roaldson
- Aljoscha Stadelmann as Urs Kobler
- Benoit Peverelli as Berndt
- Luise Berndt as Nelly
- Angela Winkler as Rosa Melchior
- Gilles Tschudi as Mayor of Zurich
- Caroline de Maigret as Chanel Press Attache
- Claire Tran as Maria's London Assistant (Mei-Ling)
- Jakob Kohn as Jo-Ann's manager
Principal photography of Clouds of Sils Maria began on 22 August 2013 and ended on 4 October. The film was shot on location in the titular village of Sils Maria, Switzerland as well as Zurich, Leipzig, Germany and South Tyrol, Italy.
Chanel debuted in film financing and supplied the actresses with clothes, jewelry, accessories and makeup, while also providing some of the budget to allow Olivier Assayas to fulfill his dream of shooting a film on 35-mm film instead of digitally.
The American title of the film is Clouds of Sils Maria, but in France the film is known by the original name, Sils Maria.
Marketing and festivals
It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on 23 May 2014. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival.
Clouds of Sils Maria premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to positive reviews. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports a "Certified Fresh" score of 89% based on 135 reviews with an average rating of 7.6 out of 10. The site's consensus reads, "Bolstered by a trio of powerful performances from its talented leads, Clouds of Sils Maria is an absorbing, richly detailed drama with impressive depth and intelligence." On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film holds an average score of 78, based on 41 reviews, indicating a "generally favorable reviews" response.
Robbie Collin of the The Daily Telegraph stated, "This is a complex, bewitching and melancholy drama, another fearlessly intelligent film from Assayas" and, praising the performance, said, "Binoche plays the role with elegance and melancholic wit – her character slips between fiction and fact in a way that recalls her role in Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy. 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."
Peter Debruge of Variety said it was Assayas' "daring rejoinder, a multi-layered, femme-driven meta-fiction that pushes all involved—including next-gen starlets Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz — to new heights." Matt Risley of Total Film called it "an elegant, intelligent drama, enlivened by strong performances by Binoche, Moretz and especially Stewart, for whom this will surely usher in a new dawn."
Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice wrote: "But the movie's true center, the meteorological phenomenon that makes it so pleasurable to watch, is the half-prickly, half-affectionate interplay between Binoche and Stewart." Ben Sachs of Chicago Reader wrote: "This recalls Ingmar Bergman's chamber dramas in the intensity and psychological complexity of the central relationship, yet the filmmaking is breathtakingly fluid, evoking a sense of romantic abandon."
However, Kyle Smith of the New York Post writes: "A backstage drama that has all the sizzle of a glass of water resting on the windowsill, [...] Clouds of Sils Maria mistakes lack of dramatic imagination for smoldering subtlety."
Clouds of Sils Maria opened in France on 20 August 2014 in 150 theaters for a $3,663 per theater average and a box office total of $549,426 as of 24 August 2014. The film expanded to 195 theaters in its second week of release and the box office increased to an estimated $1,150,090.
Clouds of Sils Maria opened in the United States on 10 April 2015 in three theaters and grossed $69,729 on its opening weekend for an average of $23,243 per. As of 4 June 2015, the film has grossed an estimated $1,743,577 after expanding theaters.
Awards and nominations
The film won the Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film in December 2014. The film received six César Award nominations including best film, best director, best actress, best original screenplay, and best cinematography, while Stewart won for best supporting actress, becoming the first American actress to win a César and the second American actor to win after Adrien Brody in 2003.
- "Kowalski" by Primal Scream
- "Largo de Xerxes" (Handel's Largo) – Georg Friedrich Handel
- "Canon and Gigue in D Major for 3 Violins and Basso Continuo" – Johann Pachelbel
- "Paavin of Albarti (Alberti)" – Hesperion XXI
- "Concert in Waldhaus"
- "Sonate No. 2 in D Minor" – Georg Friedrich Handel
The film will be released on DVD and Digital HD by Paramount Home Media on July 14, 2015, the company will also handle the digital entertainment sales, with IFC handling the video on demand sales.
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- Clouds of Sils Maria at Metacritic Retrieved 10 April 2015
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- "France Box Office: August 20–24, 2014". Box Office Mojo.
- "'Sils Maria' Wins France’s Louis Delluc Critics' Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- Clouds of Sils Maria at the Internet Movie Database
- Clouds of Sils Maria at Box Office Mojo
- Clouds of Sils Maria at Rotten Tomatoes
- Clouds of Sils Maria at Metacritic