Movie Review - Personal Shopper

Kristen Stewart works with filmmaker Olivier Assayas again, following an amazing collaboration previously, Clouds of Sils Maria. In that film, Assayas and Stewart were dealing with relationship dynamics one doesn't often see in movies. It was about women of various ages and experiences grappling with issues in relation to their careers. It's not as if those issues have never been addressed in film. It's just not often women of various types have dominated a film in a non-romantic sense and almost to the exclusion of men.

Here, this movie is instead all about a man. He's never on screen, but Stewart's relationship with this man is very central to all she does, while it ends up being about her and her own internal struggles, her motives are directly connected to a man. It's not that that's a bad thing. It's simply things could have been somewhat different, more different than the hetero-normative dynamic on display here. That being said, Assayas and Stewart manage to make things somewhat compelling, even though Stewart is for large parts by herself in the frame and mainly not speaking, at least not orally.

Stewart stars as Maureen, an assistant to a famous or very powerful woman. She's not an assistant in the traditional sense. She has to go to stores not only in Paris but occasionally London in order to get designer clothing and jewelry for her boss. The famous woman can't do it herself either cause she has no time or going out will cause her to be swamped by press or paparazzi, so Maureen does all the shopping for this woman.

At the same time, Maureen is also a medium. She can make contact or sometimes see spirits. She's currently assessing a house for a couple trying to buy it. They suspect it's haunted but want Maureen to check it out before they purchase it. She's also dealing with the death of her brother about three months ago. Her brother was a medium too and she's waiting for him to make contact with her from beyond the grave.

Throughout the film, Assayas teases us with the idea that Maureen is making contact, but we're not sure. She's not sure. It's heavily implied because of floating drinking-glasses or banging noises that she is making contact with a ghost. It's more heavily implied with a long series of text messages that Maureen has. Yet, those texts become more about her fears, her frustrations and her general station in life than it being about proving a ghost is real.

Assayas is able to infuse this section of the movie with a bit of suspense and even danger. In fact, there is a moment when Assayas makes a series of texts on an iPhone one of the most terrifying things in a movie this year so far and probably for the rest of the year.

Other than that, Stewart commands the screen. She's beautiful and radiant. She has a sense about her that is vulnerable but somehow strong. She wants to hear from her brother. This compels her to do certain things that maybe she normally wouldn't. She gets scared, but she can stand up and step out into certain situations.

Rated R for some language, sexuality, nudity and a bloody image.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.


Popular Posts