Life imitates art in this subtle drama about an aging actress trying to find new light and her assistant who is along for the ride. Juliette Binoche plays the actress with such confidence and poignancy that is only matched by Kristen Stewart’s career best performance as her misunderstood counterpart.
Very few times in an actor’s career do they get a chance to put aside their past and bring new light to themselves. Binoche’s Maria Enders is a theatre actress past her time who decides to return to the play that put her in the spotlight. Stewart’s performance as Valentine gives her a chance to bring a new light in her real life, as it is one of the best performances of the year.
The plot isn’t very complex. It mirrors the play that the film focuses on, but this film is a character driven film if there ever was one. It’s also the only memorable thing about the film.
The film starts off by showing you a glimpse of the protagonists world, bouncing between calls and offers to do jobs. Binoche is the strong headed one of the group, while Stewart is the quieter of the duo.
Binoche comes off as hard-headed and arrogant through the majority of the film, which helps showcase Stewart’s deadly talent.
Kristen Stewart tells a story so subtly, that by the time you realize it, it’s gone. She expertly weaves and entire background and depth without mentioning anything about her life, only expressing her opinions on the present. She’s so good at it that by the time her character leaves, you know exactly why and her reasoning, even though she never explains.
While her leaving is most likely to align with the play of the film, it could also do with a possible pregnancy or even falling in love with her boss. While it’s up to the viewer, it’s just another testament to how even though the plot had a lot of holes, the characters filled them with wonder and clarity.
Without the two characters to lead the film, it would’ve sunk, but luckily we got to see greatness.