Clouds of Sils Maria
Olivier Assayas, Director
This was a very theatrical weekend for me:
Hamilton, several videos checked out of the library, and the Oscars (what happened???)
In between I tried to recover. I read the playbill and wondered . . . about the role of the understudy. How does one suddenly transformed, step into, substitute one role for the other? The bi-polar ability to code-switch, assume a while new skin. Which brings me my review of the Clouds of Sils Maria, a fascinating, multi-layered meta film, a house of mirrors about roles, acting, and the skin we’re in. How do the old (older) navigate a changing world? How do the young (younger) step into what are assumed roles and play a new part? What is the tangled, transforming, even wispy foggy, territory in between?
Nothing in this film was spelled out for the viewer=refreshing. We weren’t “told” who the villains were. All the characters were vulnerable, pushed to “act” even in the midst of sudden grief.
Other reviewers have pointed out real-life parallels between the script and Internet parables—which brings me to another fascinating facet of the movie: the role of landscape, specifically a certain valley in the Swiss Alps where a cloud formation known locally as Sils Maria, rushes in from Italy over a pass in the form of a serpent, (A phenomena that is a harbinger of changing weather, a front coming through, presumably “bad” weather.) and, particularly, the Internet. Social media, YouTube, and Google all play a role, a subversive, pervasive serpentine, entangling role in the actor’s everyday lives.
Clouds of Sils Maria is a commentary on how we act/react in our prescribed roles, whatever they may be. Because we change and switch them often. We never stay the same, the person we think we are, the people we think we love, this moment we are in is constantly evolving.