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film review

Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria

The French director Olivier Assayas always makes heady, clever films, and Clouds of Sils Maria is no exception. It's a story of a veteran actress (Juliette Binoche) hesitantly tackling the prestigious stage play that first made her famous – except now in the role of the older woman – and is complexly conceived and rife with metaphors and allusions to the history of theatre and cinema. Lest that make the film sound forbidding, it's also funny and humane, especially Kristen Stewart as Binoche's opinionated assistant, who stumps for the teen-centric pop culture her employer disdains. The character's advocacy on behalf of multiplex blockbusters is especially endearing considering Stewart's own résumé – it's a wonderfully accomplished and cathartic performance.

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