I recently saw Clouds of Sils Maria on DVD and was planning to write about it as part of my DVD Gems series of great films that didn’t make it to my local cinema. I didn’t for two reasons; the film is too good, and has too much going on for a three hundred word review; secondly I keep coming back to one thing about the film, Kristen Stewart.
The film stars Juliette Binoche as a world famous actress and movie star. She splits her time between blockbuster/superhero movies and more serious films and plays. She accepts a part in a play about a destructive relationship between an younger and older woman. She is cast in the role of the older woman having previously made her name as the younger woman in the first production and subsequent film adaptation. Binoche is as brilliant as you would expect but so is her co star Kristen Stewart.
Stewart plays the personal assistant to Binoche’s star. The character is more introverted and less emotional that Binoche’s actress but is equally as passionate. The character exudes an intelligence that is tempered by youth and naivety. She cannot always express herself in the way she wishes to. The greatest achievement of the part is that she is always believable. She never comes across as an actress playing an assistant, she is totally natural and immersed in the role. Interestingly the only other person I can think of playing her was also in contention for the part, Mia Wasikowska. Wasikowska is probably my favourite young actress at the moment but probably couldn’t have done any better than Stewart who is totally sublime. I am clearly not the only person to be impressed, Kristen Stewart won a César (a French Oscar), the first American actress to win one!
We shouldn’t be surprised, this isn’t the first time Kristen Stewart has impressed in a supporting role. She bought the same naturalism and innocence to Still Alice as the daughter of Julianne Moore’s Oscar winning lead. This ability should not come as any surprise, she has always been a talented actress. Take a look at early roles such as Undertow (2004), Panic Room (2002) and Into the Wild (2007). Her previously most impressive role was in Adventureland (2009) released between the first two Twilight movies. And that is the crux of why some people don’t like Stewart and why others are surprised when she is good, Twilight! A lot of people who dislike Stewart actually or even hate the character Bella Swan not the actress. All the lip biting and pushing her hair back is the character not the actress, ironically, the haters she has attracted for Twilight are actually a sign of how well she captured the character.
As far as I can see Clouds of Sils Maria is eligible for next years Oscars having received a general release in April 2105 after spending a year doing the festival rounds. It is unlikely, but possible that Kristen Stewart could receive an Oscar nomination. If you don’t believe me, check out Still Alice and Clouds of Sils Maria as well as some of her other movies I have mentioned, if you haven’t already, I would recommend you watch them anyway.