Writer-director Olivier Assayas (Demonlover) puts Juliette Binoche on the rack as an actress coming to grips with the ravages and passages of time. She plays Maria Enders, a grande dame who came to fame by playing a brash young thing who seduces and then abandons her (female) boss. At a gathering honoring the playwright behind her breakthrough, a director asks her to return to the play, this time as the jilted older woman. She hesitates, then accepts and sets out to inhabit the persona of her former victim. It’s a rough journey for Maria — life imitates art and all that — and a necessarily brave performance from Binoche, who does good work keeping the inevitable outbursts from becoming overwrought. (It’s tough when you have to run lines with your intelligent — and more importantly, young — personal assistant (a bespectacled Kristen Stewart).) But the real star turns out to be the play itself: the early masterpiece of a now-deceased writer, a work of such mirrorlike perfection that it reveals entirely different things to different people — most potently, to Maria then and Maria now (2014) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.