Upcoming drama Clouds of Sils Maria, from acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Paris, je t'aime), has an intriguing premise. Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, an actress who is offered a part in a play about an alluring, manipulative younger woman who becomes romantically involved with a washed-up but devoted older woman and eventually drives her to suicide. In her youth, Maria played the younger woman, Sigrid, and as a veteran actress she is asked to play the older woman, Helena.
It's the sort of job offer that could be considered rather depressing, but the popular reputation of the play's director (Lars Eidinger) and the encouragement of Maria's personal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) convince Maria to take the role. Then she learns that the part of Sigrid will be played by bitchy, self-destructive Hollywood starlet Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz), and begins to have second thoughts.
Looking at the new trailer for Clouds of Sils Maria, it seems like the play that Maria stars in will end up being a reflection of her own life, since she is secretly attracted to Valentine and Valentine is a persuasive force in her life. Whether or not this parallel will also lead to Maria committing suicide... well, we'll have to watch the movie to find out.
It's good to see Binoche take the lead in a film after being so rapidly written out of Godzilla last year. Thematically Clouds of Sils Maria seems to share more than a few similarities with David Cronenberg's latest film, Maps to the Stars, but hopefully it will deliver a better story.
Clouds of Sils Maria premiered at Cannes Film Festival last summer and has been touring various festivals since then, picking up plenty of critical acclaim along the way. There was particular praise for the film's three leads, which should help Stewart to shake off some of the residual Twilight stigma as she moves on to other projects.
Clouds of Sils Maria will receive a limited U.S. theatrical release on April 10th, 2015.