A French beauty like no other.
My first memory of Juliette Binoche was her role as the young and naive Tereza in the film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It was 1988.
Juliette, so young, so innocent, so luminous. Already established as a well known and successful French actress, this was her first English speaking role which led to a worldwide audience and acclaim and for me, from that day forward, a huge fan.
What I’ve always loved about Juliette Binoche is her courage as an actress. Never one to shy away from a difficult role or where her own vulnerabilities are challenged and laid bare.
Life comes full circle.
In her most recent role in the film Clouds of Sils Maria, Juliette Binoche plays the part of Maria Enders. A film exploring the cyclical nature of stardom with Juliette Binoche playing what could be seen as an autobiography of her own career and was the intention of director Olivier Assayas.
In the film, the ageing star Maria Enders is asked to consider a remake of the successful film that ignited her career many years earlier, a role where Maria played a young woman (Sigrid) in love with an older and emotionally disturbed woman (Helena). In the reprise, she is asked to play out the role of the older woman who, of course, mirrors aspects of Maria’s own troubled life which she finds both confronting and disturbing.
This is a story that examines the loss of perceived relevance and the challenge to confront age and the eventual replacement from the lofty mantle of stardom with a younger star, although the ultimate outcome is one of quiet satisfaction for the older actress.
The other big star of this film (apart from Kristen Stewart) and the most intriguing was the Sils Maria Valley itself, located in the Swiss Alps where the legendary Sils Maria cloud weaves like a snake through the valley. The filmmakers managed to capture this rare occurrence towards the end of the movie and it’s as captivating as it is enigmatic.
For me, this is a film about grappling with our own relevance, finding our place in the world as we age and coming to terms with the changes we face as life proceeds with or without us. I loved the duality of the characters where reality and roles are blurred and mysteries and truths are left hanging like the Sils Maria cloud.
The fashion house Chanel was a major financier for the film, with the obligatory nod early on in the movie where Juliette’s character looks every bit the star in head-to-toe Chanel.
Once a beauty icon for Lancome, images of Juliette show her beautiful translucent alabaster skin. Now in her fifties, keeping it that way will require topical serums loaded with high-quality Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Retinol (Vitamin A) which will keep her skin strong and rejuvenate her skin. A skin this fair will, of course, require a very good sunscreen to protect her during a Parisian summer and in the cool months of winter, the benefits of nourishing oils derived from avocado, jojoba, almond or starflower will protect her fine delicate skin from becoming seasonally sensitive.
At 51, Juliette Binoche is confident in who she is and the choices she’s made in life, without shying away from the struggles we all experience as part of life.
In her own words in an interview with Vogue Australia:
The more I am acting as different characters, the more I think we are all the same. We all have to go through the big themes of life; separations, betrayal, reconciliation, love. For me the big secret is to allow myself not to feel separated, not only from the humankind, but also from nature; rocks, plants, animals and of course the stars, millions and millions of stars.
Other films worth a look.
Since seeing Clouds of Sils Maria I’ve been bingeing on Juliette Binoche films. Juliette has 40 films to her credit, such as The English Patient, where she won her first Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and of course the gorgeous film, Chocolat with Judi Dench, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp.
A few of my own personal favourites are, of course, The Unbearable Lightness of Being where she stars alongside Daniel Day-Lewis and Lena Olin. The deeply confronting story of grief and loss in Three Colours Blue, and The Horseman on the Roof a romance set against the backdrop of the 1832 Italian struggle for independence co-starring, Olivier Martinez.
There are a couple I’m yet to see but worth a look. Dan in Real Life a romantic comedy co-starring with the American actor, Steve Carell. Or, if you love a bit of historic drama there’s Camille Claudel 1915 where Juliette plays out the true-life events of the troubled but incredibly gifted sculptor Camille Claudel. An eclectic mix, which exemplifies the range of this talented actress.
See you next time,