Movie Review: ‘Personal Shopper’
Personal Shopper reunites Kristen Stewart with French filmmaker Olivier Assayas after her revelatory performance in Clouds of Sils Maria. Personal Shopper once again makes the best use of Stewart’s talents, but this time it falls a little short in the execution. It’s not quite bad, thanks to Stewart, but its bizarre tonal shifts in the narrative can’t help but hinder it at times.
Like Sils Maria, where Stewart played a multitasking assistant to a French movie star, Personal Shopper looks at another woman who’s on the fringe of both luxury and celebrity. Stewart’s character Maureen is personal shopper working for a model in Paris. She picks out designer clothes for a woman who’s too busy, and big of a celebrity to handle shopping for herself.
Entering the story almost midway through we find out that Maureen is a medium who’s on the journey to see if she can make contact with her twin brother, whom died in Paris a few months prior. Her brother shared being a medium with her. The two made a pact that if one were to die before the other they would sent each other a message as a proof of life after death. The story however takes as an unexpected turn when she starts to receive creepy text messages on her cell phone. At what first seems to be a prank Maureen quickly begins to think it might be her brother messaging her, or someone with a more sinister agenda.
From a beautifully shot esoteric drama, to a routine thriller, the tonal shift hinders what could have been a moving character piece. All this iPhone drama seems to be unnecessary since the journey she was just as involving. Assayas’s script doesn’t seem to make up its mind of what kind of a story it wants to tell.
All of its problems aside this is really the type of role that Stewart excels in. It’s easy to buy her in this role of a reluctant personal shopper who observes celebrity from afar. The soft-spoken Stewart herself probably relates to people like Maureen, or Valentine from Sils Maria, who’d rather be working behind the scenes than those in the spotlight. Critics of Stewart have been a stickler on her emotional range as an actress, but her work here couldn’t be more opposite. Whether she’s quietly contemplating something while drinking coffee, or stumbling over her words when being questioned by the police, it’s hard not to keep one’s eyes off of her. Some of the best uses of Stewart here are simply her walking through a dark house, and calling out to her brother. It takes a talented actress to pull of such a scene that could go for unintended laughs quickly. Personal Shopper is worth a look for fans of its director whom Stewart clearly works quite well. This probably won’t be their last project together.
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