Samstag, 5. Juli 2014

Filmfest München: Clouds of Sils Maria

"Clouds of Sils Maria" presents a curious case. On the one hand, it boasts an intriguing premise worthy of exploration, it's written with great sophistication and it's passionately performed by a sizzling actress-duo. There's nothing sloppy or frivolous about the whole production. And yet the movie comes off not quite the smart, intense chamber piece it aims to be, but a rather stuffy, meandering talkie lacking in contour and spark.

Centered around a veteran movie star whose life gets stirred when the scriptwriter that made her famous passed away, the film is born not just by magnificent vista of the Alps but even more so by mountains of dialogue. Which is in itself not a problem, but this screenplay makes one too many detours in its obvious fascination with age, celebrity, female companionship and the essence of performance to be called concise or measured. That the battle of words is often carried out in static surroundings exacerbates the airless, cumbersome feeling. French writer/director Olivier Assayas is a proven genius storyteller but here his hand is mostly obscured. You can definitely still tell the film is made by someone with an unfailing cinematic instinct- the classy scenic transitions and a couple of psychedelic sequences are particularly memorable- but on the whole the direction is less than striking.

As for the actors, I never thought I'd ever complain about too much Juliette Binoche, but in this movie she actually overdoes it now and again. While it's certainly breathtaking to watch how she pulls back from hysterical laughter to complete, chilling tranquility within a second and to just take in that diva-licious radiance of hers, a degree of subtlety is missing. Kristen Stewart holds up her end of the duet surprisingly well, more natural and present than she's ever been. All in all, many worthy parts make up this stately, substantial but strangely underwhelming sum.

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