January 28, 2021
Clouds of Sils Maria – France, 2014
With all respect to Shakespeare, there are four stages in the life of the average actor. In their youth, they are adorable and spunky, capable of melting the hardest hearts, as well as dispensing unexpectedly hilarious one-liners that display a wisdom beyond their years. In their late teens and early twenties, they are often the epitome of both young love and independence, characters in search of happily-ever-after but on terms that recognize their individuality while simultaneously allowing them to pursue their own dreams. The next stage typically sees a sharp decline in the number of lead romantic roles and a rise in ones associated with parenthood. Rarely do movies focus solely on their romantic exploits, unless they diverge from what society typically thinks of as a normal relationship, such as one involving an affair or devolving into desperation or dependence. Finally, if they are fortunate, they may find themselves cast in the role of grandparents and called upon to dispense timely advice to their much younger leads. Their stars long faded, they are a reminder of the impermanence of fame and status, a notice that all of us are destined to be replaced by someone younger, wittier, and better looking. Juliette Binoche’s character in Oliver Assayas’s 2014 film Clouds of Sils Maria is in the third stage, even though she had yet to fully accept it.