By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Personal Shopper is an interesting trip into the high-end fashion world and the spoilt brats that inhabit it. An otherwise overused cliche that’s been given a refreshing, albeit sometimes strange subplot involving a ghost.
Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is a personal shopper for a big time celebrity in Paris. She’s also a medium trying to communicate with her recently deceased twin brother, who was also a medium.
The plot sounds beyond ridiculous, like a genre mash-up that you’d expect to find in an offbeat film festival like Kino Aero’s Schlockproof Film Festival (Otrleho Divaka), but there aren’t many laughs to be had here. It’s moody and it’s deadly serious.
French director Olivier Assayas has provided Stewart with some stand-out scenes in order to show off skills that she’s acquired in her fruitful indie film career, because let’s face it, she acquired nothing from Twilight. This is her second Assayas film after her notable performance in Clouds of Sils Maria, and she makes a good Maureen. Confused, impatient, and unable to be herself, whomever that may be.
The pace of the film is reasonably snappy and you’re seldom bored. You are often however, a bit confused. The film’s strengths lie within the scenes involving Maureen’s creepy but alluring text message conversations with a mysterious entity. Assayas treats the conversation as a way of opening up Maureen’s character and really turning up the thrill factor of a film that otherwise, might be a bit all over the place without it. It strings it all together.
The ghost scenes are quite moody and atmospheric, but the shopping scenes sometimes become tedious. The clothes are great, and expensive, and the people in the industry are bitchy and somewhat insufferable. We’ve seen these scenes a thousand times over in many films, more recently in Nicholas Winding Refn’s intolerable Neon Demon.
But unlike that film, Personal Shopper doesn’t over do it by making things frustratingly weird. Although confusing, it still sucks you in and leaves an impression – that combined with Stewart’s performance make it an interesting watch.
Personal Shopper was actually partly shot in the Czech Republic, and will be in Czech cinemas from April 27.
Photo: Roger Ebert