Maria Enders got her career started playing Sigrid in Majorca’s Snake, a play about the relationship between two women, a youthful girl and a middle-aged woman. She was in Zurich in order to honor her friend Wilhelm Melchior, when she receives news of his death. Partly to honor his memory, she had agreed to play Helena, the older woman in the play. To prepare for the role, she retreats to the author's house with Valentine, and this is really where the film picks up.
Most of the film happens in the vicinity of the house, the banter between JB and Valentina digging further to the person Maria is. She rejects the idea of Helena, always looking at everything from Sigrid’s point of view. To her, Sigrid is eternal, the image of her that cannot be touched. In reality, Sigrid is the past she is trying to hold onto - from a in-demand actress to playing roles that she think doesn’t suit her. Now that she is no longer in the limelight, she’d like to hold on to her success, her youth.
The film was well-shot, the wide angles capturing the beauty of Switzerland, and the way the camera pans during their practices at the house engulfs the movie viewers in the moment. The performances of Juliette Binoche and Kirsten Stewart were fantastic as well. I love how Binoche can easily switch from Maria to Helena and really be in the moment. Stewart was already on good footing the moment she appeared on the screen. She suited quite the role. The film kind of gave the feeling that it wanted to connect the relationship of the two to the characters of the play, but it’s a minor part compared to the depths of Binoche’s character. Chloe Moretz appears briefly as the young star assigned to play Sigrid, and while she does well on the role, she doesn’t really do much. Her big moment wasn’t as powerful as I think it was meant to be.
Final Word: Well-acted, with a beautiful scenery.
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moretz
Director: Olivier Assayas