Showing posts with label kristen stewart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kristen stewart. 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

7 October 2012

On The Road Review

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Sam Riley channels Jack Kerouac in Walter Salles's adaptation of the author's cult book, On The Road, loosely based upon Kerouac's own jaunt across 40's USA.

Often considered a prime example of that most tantalising of literature, the "unfilmable" novel; Salles has succeeded in bringing Kerouac's vision of travelling excess to the screen in a manner which is both laudable for it's visual impact, and excruciating for it's navel-gazing pomposity.

Living in New York in the 1940's and, having just lost his father , Sal (Sam Riley) finds himself in limbo as he struggles to put pen to paper and begin in earnest his life as a writer; spending his time with wittering junkie-poet pal Carlo (Tom Sturbridge), and waiting for inspiration to strike.

This changes with the arrival of the enigmatic Dean Moriarty, a restless, carefree sort, with a girl in every port, an in unquenchable lust for adventure; who immediately charms Sal, and instills in him that same yearning for life on the open road.

Salles's adaptation of the source material is nothing if not visually stunning. Sal's tramp cross-country gives Eric Gautier the perfect chance to plaster the screen in the best that the vast, beautiful country has to offer.

Garrett Hedlund's performance as the responsibility-dodging, serial shagger, Moriarty, is spectacular; brimming with confidence and more than a hint of passive-aggressive arrogance. A realisation of a character who is both endearing for his naive, lust-for-life energy; and terrifying for his total inability, or unwillingness, to cease his wanton trail of emotional destruction.

Riley's Sal has much less to do, too often he's relegated to the role of standby fag-smoker, or backing singer on some tedious bout of improv-jazz. But Riley's performance is laudable too; dripping with tar and croaking along with a twenty-a-day drawl that sounds caked in coffee and ash.

All that visual beauty, and those performances cant', however, save the film from it's crushing sense of pointlessness. On The Road meanders across the screen while it's characters swagger across the country in a state of perpetual aimlessness. Too often the piece descends into orgies of self-reverential beat-influenced poetry, or laughing, preening sessions of tiresome jazz.

For all its visual clout, and individual brilliance; On The Road will make you wish you had the same laissez-faire , drug-induced outlook as it's characters. That way you could just drift away too.

Chris Banks (@Chris_in_2D)

UK Release Date: 12th October 2012 Directed By:Walter Salles
Cast:Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams