We’ll say it again: Kristen Stewart is really good at acting. If you don’t think so, check her out in Clouds of Sils Maria, in which she portrays a personal assistant to world-famous actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche), staying with her boss at an estate in the Swiss Alps and helping her run lines for a revival of the stage play that first made her famous. Not many can hold their own against the great Binoche, but Stewart does and helps make this a fabulous showcase.
This is only the second English-language movie by French director Olivier Assayas (after his excellent drug addiction drama Clean), and it’s primarily a character study of Maria facing the aging process in an unforgiving business as she flails about trying to find a way into the character of an older woman in a destructive lesbian affair. (She became famous playing the younger woman.) Stewart makes an excellent foil for Binoche, and Assayas includes several winks at her Twilight past as her character negotiates social media on Maria’s behalf and launches a skillful defense of the artistic merits of superhero movies to a skeptical Maria. That said, Assayas can’t help getting in his digs at Hollywood, and he executes a genre parody that’s better than anything in Birdman. As the erotically tinged relationship between the women starts to mirror the events in the play that’s being rehearsed, the film becomes the stuff of gripping drama.
Clouds of Sils Maria runs Fri-Sun at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $7-9. Call 817-738-9215.