The showbiz melodrama centers on an aging actress, Maria (Juliette Binoche), struggling to find her place in a film industry she no longer understands. Her loyal personal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) convinces her to take part in a play about a tragic May-September lesbian romance. Maria rose to fame playing the younger lover in the same play decades ago, so she bristles at being asked to now play the older woman. Cast in the younger role is rising Hollywood starlet Jo-Ann (Chloe Grace Moretz), who immediately entrances Stewart. Already feeling discarded by her profession for her wrinkles, Maria has difficulty accepting Valentine’s wandering eye as well.
Assayas is already known for “lik[ing] his leading ladies unpredictable and punk, crafting wild pipe-bomb thrillers to suit the feral energy of muses such as Maggie Cheung (Irma Vep), Chloe Sevigny (Demonlover) and Asia Argento (Boarding Gate),” according to Variety’s Peter Debruge. But apparently Clouds of Sils Maria was partly inspired by Binoche’s challenge to the director that he make a film that rings true to the female experience.
The film has yet to receive a US release date.