Clouds of Sils Maria.
I first heard of this because an American won a prize that no American wins for acting in it, and that prize was the Filmspot for Supporting Actress, long the domain of older Korean women. But here comes Kristen Stewart of all people and she just walks away with it. Appalling. That Twilight girl? Ha. But lo, she is fantastic, as is the rest of the film.
A mess of metaness pervades the film, and if you're turned off by notions about actors and acting and movies in your movies you'll find little here of interest. But if you can see yourself trying to puzzle out how the real lives of these actors playing actors playing characters relate to each of those layers, there's so much to investigate in this marvelous film. Of course, the plot of the play that is being put on in the film becomes the text of the film itself and then things get even more confusing/interesting. I'm setting this up like it's a murder mystery when it isn't, but I do find that some of the same buttons are pushed by this little enigma. The movies I was reminded of most were Persona and Certified Copy, to give you some perspective, and I'm sure I'm not the first to make those connections. I admire both of those movies more than I enjoy them, but this film works more for me on the entertainment side, perhaps because it is not as complex as them conceptually.
It makes up for the relative simplicity with some outstanding performances from the three women at the core of the movie as well as with an assist from some absolutely gorgeous scenery. These four elements augment the script by making it real, lived in. Something like this might have easily gotten lost in the weeds of its own cleverness, but Juliette Binoche and Stewart won't let it happen. Perhaps thanks to their own similarities to their characters (and others), they always feel like they existed before the film started and continue to do so even when the camera isn't on them. When Chloë Grace Moretz joins the film, the same holds true for her. The Swiss countryside provides the backdrop for their drama, though that undersells its power and beauty. There's a meteorological event that gives the movie its title and works as a metaphor for the way time covers all of our experiences, whether we know it or not. I'm not sure yet what the film has to say about this, other than that it happens, but I'm glad I will now be able to think about it for a while.
Was the Filmspot deserved? Oh yes. Definitely.