Kristen Stewart co-stars opposite Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, the upcoming Carrie remake) in Olivier Assayas' Sils Maria, a psychological drama currently being filmed in Germany and Switzerland. A Kristen Stewart fan site on Twitter has posted a series of images showing Stewart, wearing a jacket and glasses, on the Sils Maria set. Warning: Be extremely careful when visiting the photo site where the Kristen Stewart images are stored. I've removed the link from this post because twice when clicking on the images, popups attempted to install phishing software. (Now, please scroll down to check out the "full-body" shot of the bespectacled Kristen Stewart in Sils Maria.)
Set in the Swiss area known as Sils Maria, writer-director Olivier Assayas' movie tells the story of a middle-aged former stage star, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche, in a role written expressly for her), now living as a recluse in Switzerland. Maria's seemingly placid existence is badly disturbed when her old mentor unexpectedly dies and a young director offers her a role in a movie based on the play that had originally made her a star. Now, however, Maria is to be cast in the part of the middle-aged character, while a young, rambunctious actress (Chloë Grace Moretz) will be cast in Maria's old role -- as the young woman who destroys the older one.
Where does Kristen Stewart fit into all this? Stewart is The Third Woman: Maria's assistant and interlocutor, the troubled middle-aged actress' connection with the outside world.
'Sils Maria': Shades of Ingmar Bergman, Robert Altman, 'The Sound of Music' -- 'The Sound of Music'??
Once again, when reading about Sils Maria, I find it impossible not to think of Ingmar Bergman's Persona (Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson as actress/patient and nurse) and Robert Altman's Three Women (Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, and Janice Rule sort of blending into one).
Admittedly, because of Sils Maria's trio of female stars, How to Marry a Millionaire (Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall) and its various permutations (Three Blind Mice, The Greeks Had a Word for Them, etc.) invariably come to mind as well. And no, I don't expect Sils Maria to have much else in common with the 20th Century Fox CinemaScope comedy. Nor do I expect Assayas' movie to have much at all in common with Robert Wise's The Sound of Music, but considering Sils Maria's Alpine setting and the fact that Julie Andrews' singing nun was called Sister Maria, how could that 1965 blockbuster not come to mind?
Curiously, Olivier Assayas has been quoted as saying that Sils Maria is "a Juliette Binoche movie about Juliette Binoche with Juliette Binoche." So, let's forget How to Marry a Millionaire and The Sound of Music and think instead of ... No, not that Joan Rivers TV movie. How about Diane Keaton in Woody Allen's Annie Hall? But more dramatic. Or Lana Turner in The Bad and the Beautiful. But less melodramatic. (Though Turner is at her best in that one.)
Anyhow, most moviegoers -- hungry for original, quality fare (or so we're told) -- are eagerly awaiting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction (aka Transformers 4), Paranormal Activity 5, and/or Fast & Furious 7. I'm not that selective; I'm eagerly awaiting Sils Maria.
'Sils Maria' cast
According to the IMDb, besides Chloë Grace Moretz, Kristen Stewart, and Juliette Binoche (who also starred in Olivier Assayas' multiple award winner Summer Hours), the Sils Maria cast features Brady Corbett, Johnny Flynn, Lars Eidinger, Hanns Zischler, Alister Mazzotti, Claire Tan, Steffen Mennekes, and veteran Angela Winkler (of Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, Schlöndorff's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner The Tin Drum).
Daniel Brühl (currently on screen in Ron Howard's Rush, opposite Kristen Stewart's Snow White and the Huntsman co-star Chris Hemsworth), Tom Sturridge (one of Stewart's co-stars in Walter Salles' On the Road), and veteran Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire, Downfall) have also been mentioned as Sils Maria cast members. Update: Daniel Brühl has been replaced by Lars Eidinger, apparently because Brühl has been busy plugging Rush. Johnny Flynn has taken over the part originally intended for Tom Sturridge, who has been cast instead as one of the leads in Thomas Vinterberg's remake of Far from the Madding Crowd, currently filming with Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen. On Twitter, one of the Sils Maria producers, Charles Gillibert (who also happens to be one of the On the Road producers), added that "Bruno Ganz has never been part of [the project]."
I should add that Kristen Stewart replaced initial Sils Maria choice Mia Wasikowska, who, coincidentally, was recently paired up with Stewart's Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars -- which also stars Julianne Moore, who plays Chloë Grace Moretz's demented religious-freak mother in Carrie. See, it's all connected.
Another update: According to Charles Gillibert -- see comments section -- Kristen Stewart was the actual first choice for the role of Juliette Binoche's assistant Valentine, but schedule issues prevented Stewart from accepting the part. Enter Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska, who was later forced to quit the project. As per Gillibert, she left because of a previous commitment with Walt Disney Studios, though it's unclear what "Pirates 2" is -- unless it's Alice in Wonderland 2, even though production dates on that Disney project haven't been announced. For now, Wasikowska has been cast in Sophie Barthes' Madame Bovary and Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak. Anyhow, following schedule modifications Kristen Stewart was invited back into the Sils Maria fold and was now able to take on the role.
'Sils Maria' release date
Sils Maria will likely come out some time in 2014. IFC Films, which released Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours, Carlos, and Something in the Air, in addition to Walter Salles' On the Road, will distribute Sils Maria in the United States. Here's hoping this latest Assayas' effort will have better luck at the Academy Awards than his previous ones. (The widely admired Carlos was deemed ineligible for the Oscars because it had been originally made for television.)