One of our ten most-anticipated films of 2014, our third-most-anticipated of Cannes, and the one picture yours truly might be anticipating more than any other hitting this year, Clouds of Sils Maria, is about to emerge. In preparation for his latest outing, Olivier Assayas has released a director’s statement that both clarifies intention without conceding process and teases while avoiding coyness — in short, promises of “a comedy – or drama, depending on the perspective one chooses – of an actress diving into the abyss of time, either out of professional or moral obligation, rather than desire.”
Before one reads the whole thing below, a look even further into the auteur’s future: while speaking to French newspaper Les Inrocks (via Robsessed and ThePlaylist), Assayas revealed that his following effort will be led by Robert Pattinson. This big catch results from, in the wake of his recent features, what the man himself calls “a relative notoriety, which sharpens the curiosity of some actors,” but that might not be all: it’s also less than two years after the actor attended a dinner party alongside the Sils Maria helmer and Abbas Kiarostami. (To say nothing of his friend, Johnny Flynn, becoming a regular Assayas collaborator.) If only that other auteur were to soon take interest…
It seems possible that Pattinson will headline Hubris, which we’d heard word of about a year back. Described as “an action-packed crime thriller set against the backdrop of organized crime in Chicago in the 1970s,” it, more specifically, is to document the trouble Chicago thief John Mendell found himself in after accidentally robbing the notorious Tony Accardo. The title was, as of that announcment, meant to begin shooting in mid-2014; if those plans have actually held up, we ought to hear plenty more in a short amount of time. Maybe once The Rover releases in a month, as this new poster will evidence.
At long last, here’s the statement, followed by new stills and an alternate poster:
“This film, which deals with the past, our relationship to our own past, and to what forms us, has a long history. One that Juliette Binoche and I implicitly share. We first met at the beginning of both our careers. Alongside André Téchiné, I had written Rendez-vous, a story filled with ghosts where, at age twenty, she had the lead role. Even then, the film looked at the Invisible and the path a young actress takes towards the attaining fulfillment in a role. Since then, our paths have run parallel, only crossing much later when we shot Summer Hours together in 2008. It was Juliette who had first had the feeling there was some missed opportunity, or rather film, that remained virtual in our shared history, and that would bring both of us back to the essential. With this same intuition in mind, I began taking notes, then breathing life into characters, and then into a story that had been waiting to exist for a long time.
Writing is a path, and this one is found at dizzying heights, of time suspended between origin and becoming. It is no surprise that it inspired in me images of mountainscapes and steep trails. There needed to be Spring light, the transparency of air, and the fogs of the past, those of the Cloud Phenomena of Maloja. A path that both brought me back to where everything started, for Juliette and myself, and where we find ourselves today, in our questions about the present, and especially the future.
Maria Enders is an actress. With her assistant, Valentine, they explore the wealth and complexity of characters created by Wilhelm Melchior – characters who still have yet to give up all their secrets, even twenty years later. But it is not so much about theatre and its illusions, nor about the meanderings of fiction, so much as it is about the Human, of the simplest and most intimate kind. In this respect, words, those written by authors, those that actors appropriate, those that spectators allow to resonate within themselves, evoke nothing other than the questions we all ask ourselves, everyday, in our own interior monologues.
Yes, of course, theatre is life. And even a little better than life, because it unveils grandeur in the best of situations and the worst, in the trivial and in our dreams. In this sense, Maria Enders is neither Juliette Binoche nor myself. She is each of us through this necessity to revisit the past – not to elucidate it, but rather to find the keys to our identity, which has made us who we are, and which continues to push us forward. She peers into the void and observes the young woman she was at age 20. At heart, she’s still the same, but the world has changed around her, and her youth has fled – youth as virginity, as discovery of the world. This does not come around twice. On the other hand, we never forget what our youth has taught us: this constant reinvention of the world, the deciphering of hypercontemporary reality and the price one must pay to be part of it.
Giving every new time the urgency and danger of a first time. It is the confrontation between the past and present of a landscape that appeared to me as an ideal setting for a comedy – or drama, depending on the perspective one chooses – of an actress diving into the abyss of time, either out of professional or moral obligation, rather than desire. When we stare into this void, it does not reflect much aside from our own image, frozen in the absolute present. This snapshot is at the heart of Sils Maria. Maria Enders discovers herself to be diffracted into a thousand avatars that resonate in the virtual world of fame – and detestation – of modern media. This is where the border between the most intimate, the most pathetically banal, and virtual public space is erased. We look for it, but cannot find it. Perhaps it simply no longer exists.”
Does this release from Assayas give a better impression of Sils Maria? What do you expect from his collaboration with Pattinson?