Clouds of Sils Maria

As with Irma Vep and Clean, French writer-director Olivier Assayas transforms a backstage drama into a meditation on the state of cinema, capitalism, and popular culture. Juliette Binoche plays a movie star who reluctantly agrees to perform in a new production of the play that launched her career three decades earlier; most of the story transpires at the isolated Alpine home of the recently deceased playwright, where the actress goes to prepare for her role, and centers on her relationship with her young personal assistant (Kristen Stewart, who more than holds her own against the star). This recalls Ingmar Bergman’s chamber dramas in the intensity and psychological complexity of the central relationship, yet the filmmaking is breathtakingly fluid, evoking a sense of romantic abandon no matter how pessimistic the cultural critique becomes. With Chloe Grace Moretz. In English and subtitled French and German.