Personal Shopper is a curious and absorbing little picture that showcases Kristin Stewart’s uncanny acting chops. Part character study, part non-traditional ghost story, Personal Shopper follows Maureen Cartwright, a personal shopper slash medium, working in Paris while waiting on a sign from her recently deceased twin brother.
Maureen’s life is a blur of exclusive boutiques and garments she’ll never get to wear. Her employer is particular, preferring options in colors and fabrics, asking favors of designers and leaning on Maureen to do things like update her OS version since she’s already there, schlepping bag after bag of expensive goods. It’s a job that many would envy, menial though parts of it are, for the flexible schedule, the time to oneself, money for shopping. Maureen hates it. And her employer. But she’s staying the course based on a long ago promise.
There’s a quiet desperation to Maureen’s existence, and an unspoken hope in her inaction that she can suspend facing the full truth if only she can continue believing. But, she doesn’t really get to talk to anyone about this, which watch her keeping calm and carrying on, Stewart has to use more subtle means to convey the depths here, and she does so beautifully. There comes a moment in this picture where the supernatural becomes more pronounced. Even while it’s most aggressively in play, it’s still understated, acting as a catalyst for Maureen to change her ways, to act out, not necessarily as the Casper-or-Poltergeist type being we’ve been conditioned to expect.
I thoroughly enjoyed the act of watching Personal Shopper, the Parisean streets and the glimpse into the side of the fashion world I can never hope to know we’re fascinating. And yet, as I gain distance from the film itself, I’m unsure what I’m meant to takeaway from it. Is this simply a story of acceptance or closure? An exercise in creative storytelling? Or something more. I can’t rightly say, but if you’re in the mood for a quirky, rather uncanny little picture like nothing else you’ve ever seen, give Personal Shopper a watch. And if you figure out the deeper truth, kindly clue me in.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge (screenplay), Irvine Welsh (based on the novels by)
Runtime: 1h 45mins
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Main Image Credit: IFC Films
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