Boarding Gate), when his themes never coalesce into believability, or with Clean, in which his command of the English language was not nearly up to the level it appears to have reached in his latest endeavor. He'll also surprise/shock us now and again with something memorably crazy like Demonlover, where themes (the evils of globalization) are hammered home rather bluntly but the movie is such bizarre, devilish fun that we don't care. In Clouds of Sils Maria, Assayas is working at or near his zenith, and the result is bravura.
Juliette Binoche (two photos above, who has worked with the writer and director several times before), as Maria, the oldest of the three (Ms Binoche just turned 50 last year); Kristen Stewart (above, and now 25 years old) as Valentine, Maria's smart, unusually truth-telling personal assistant; and Chloë Grace Moretz (below, who is currently at the end of her teen years) as a young actress named Jo-Ann, who has just risen to the realm of superstardom.
Lars Eidinger, above, right, as the play's hotshot director; Hanns Zischler as an old and much-loathed co-star; Johnny Flynn, below, left, as Jo-Ann's current wunderkind writer boyfriend; and Brady Corbet, who has a marvellous little penultimate scene with Binoche involving, yes, age and acting. The film's first "event," in fact, has to do with a man, the playwright in question, who gave Maria her start. Yet the guys are all satellites; it's the women who command and control the film.
Sundance Selects/IFC Films and running a just-about-perfect 124 minutes, Clouds of Sils Maria opens this Friday, April 10, in New York City at IFC Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, with openings in the top national markets throughout April and early May