Those who are familiar with the films of the great French director Olivier Assayas will receive useful information from the place I locate his latest feature, Clouds of Sils Maria, in the body of his previous work: It’s somewhere between Irma Vep and Late August, Early September. The first is about the state of cinema; the second is built and feels like a deep novel.
In Clouds, the director takes a look at the state of 21st-century Hollywood—it’s dominated by superheroes and green screens. The story, which concerns a very close relationship between a famous but aging French actress (Juliette Binoche) and her young and snappy American personal assistant (Kristen Stewart), unfolds with the grace and intellectual momentum of a novel—the film even has chapters and an epilogue.
Clouds also has many, many beautiful scenes and sequences. While watching, you feel like you are breathing the special air of the rich and famous. You walk with them up and down the Alps, you dine with them at posh restaurants, you sit with with them in first class. Assayas knows the elite region of entertainers inside and out, and Stewart’s performance will make you see her beyond the horrors and stupidities of the Twilight series.