Showing posts with label juliette binoche. Show all posts
Showing posts with label juliette binoche. Show all posts

15 May 2015

Film Review - Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014)

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Curzon Film World
Release Date:
15th May 2015 (UK)
Rating: 15
Olivier Assayas
Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, Jo-Ann Ellis

Olivier Assayas writes and directs Clouds of Sils Maria, an ambitious character study examining the lines between fiction and reality, and the effects this plays on all involved. As well as an intricate narrative filled with compelling themes, Clouds of Sils Maria features career best performances from stars Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart.

Internationally acclaimed actress Maria Enders (Binoche) has been asked to star in a revival of Maloja Snake, the play (and later film) that made her a household name. However, Enders is not wanted to reprise her role of Sigrid (the young and suggestive woman who toys with her employer), but for the role of her vulnerable, manipulated employer that is ultimately driven to suicide, Helena. After reluctance Enders accepts the part and ventures to Switzerland with her assistant, Valentine (Stewart), where they rehearse the play - unaware that they both falling into the respective roles.

Assayas has crafted a complex piece that examines the blurring lines between prose and reality. Whilst Maria and Valentine rehearse they do not mirror the exact characteristics of Helena and Sigrid, but the relationship dynamic between the pair begins to imitate that from Maloja Snake. Lines of dialogue read between the pair fuse seamlessly with their real life conversation - with viewers having to adapt, questioning whether the pair are rehearsing or conversing. This becomes more relevant as the tension between the actress and assistant builds - and both adopt further traits of their fictional counterparts.

Assayas fascinatingly examines how the actor (or those involved with the acting process e.g. Valentine) is influenced by the process of the roles they play. We see Maria confront the concept of ageing head-on, by taking the role of the 'unloved' older woman, a role which she fictionally scorned herself in a prior adaptation. Maria now has a previously unseen sympathy for the role of Helena, since she has become the older actress working alongside current box office star Jo-Ann Ellis (taking on the role of Sigrid). There is also a playful satire on the concept of the star - particularly the young tabloid celebrity, with some of the film's most darkly amusing moments coming when Maria is swept up the media frenzy surrounding Jo-Ann. A particular highlight sees Maria googling the young star, horrified of the trashy tabloid smarm that she finds.

Clouds of Sils Maria is spearheaded by dramatically sound and subtly complex performances from the divine Juliette Binoche and the outstanding Kristen Stewart. Binoche is outstanding in her reflection of a woman concerned by regret and fear, one that is essentially longing for and resenting her lost youth. Stewart excels in her representation of an unheard youth, bringing a magnetism and charm to the fold as the headstrong assistant. Both actresses shine on screen together with the bond between the pair surpassing that of star and assistant, feeling authentic and dramatically well-pitched.

Praise should also go to the astounding visuals - with cinematographer Yorick Le Saux capturing the beauty and isolation of the enigmatic Swiss Alps setting.

Clouds of Sils Maria is ambitious, thoughtful, and performed with a heartfelt authenticity. Binoche and Stewart are simply magnificent here, whilst Assayas has crafted a compelling and gorgeously-pitched character piece.

Andrew McArthur

This review was originally posted on our main site at The Peoples Movies

6 November 2012

Cosmopolis DVD Review

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There’s some kind of law about using the word existential when reviewing a David Cronenberg movie, you sort of have to really. So let’s get that out the way early on. What we’re dealing with here are some very grand themes including sex, death, capitalism, emotional dysfunction and detachment.

Based on the 2003 Don DeLillo novel, Cosmopolis sees Eric Packer moving through streets of an unstable Manhattan, shielded inside his cork lined limo for a haircut he’s convinced he needs. All the while his downfall is being engineered behind the scenes by the very capitalist system he helped to create? Or is it?

The film itself has a futuristic retro feel to it; the towering glass and chrome of Manhattan take on a menacing look as Packer slides through the streets in the silent cocoon of his soundproofed limo.

Better known for his visceral horror, Cronenberg here manages to invoke a kind of creeping dread that permeates the film. The only difference this time is that the danger is intangible, created by the likes of Packer those like him who have been responsible for the financial crash of the capitalist system. They are the de facto rulers of the world, as they control the data on which capitalism rests. Conversely, the world outside of his window erupts into violent riots by the disenfranchised masses her helped create. It’s a startling juxtaposition.

Pattinson’s performance is superb. His bleak detachment from reality is icy cold yet he manages to get the nuances just right. He could so easily have overdone this character and descended into a caricature of manic ticks and gestures. There’s also a long list of cameos from some of the greats as they enter and exit Packer’s life, leaving behind them some exposition as they go.

In summary, Cosmopolis is an extremely cerebral film; heavy on the dialogue with a gnawing sense of dread you can’t quite put your finger on. It often treads a fine line between film as social commentary and entertainment but for the most part doesn’t take itself too seriously.

This is Cronenberg back to his best.

Vikki Mysercough


DVD/BD Release Date: 12 November 2012 (UK)
Directed By:David Cronenberg
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand
Buy Cosmopolis:Blu-ray/DVD