Writer/director Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper opens on Maureen (the truly stellar Kristen Stewart), a young woman who’s supposedly clairvoyant, as she spends a night in her recently deceased twin brother’s suburban Parisian home in order to contact his spirit. The gorgeous camerawork and Stewart’s poignant body language successfully convey that gaping, melancholic loneliness that often accompanies grief; it’s a striking opening scene that immediately tethers the audience to Maureen and immerses them in Assayas’ world.
While dealing with a frustrating, all-consuming job as a personal shopper for a monstrous model named Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten), Maureen continues attempting to access the spirit world until she is successful (which eventually happens in a wonderfully creepy scene). Unfortunately for her, the spirit that reached out to her wasn’t the one she wanted, and she regrets her actions once she starts receiving strange texts from an unknown person who seems to know far too much about her.
The overwhelming majority of this film is quite solid: Assayas manages to capture both the beauty and the monotony of Parisian life through the character of Maureen, while evocative cinematography and an ambient score lead the viewer on the same journey as the protagonist as she navigates her way through an increasingly disturbing chain of events seemingly sparked by her spectral interaction. Unfortunately, once the movie reaches its climax, the denouement leaves much to be desired... and an unseemly number of loose ends.
Subtle hints and perceived foreshadowing throughout the film are completely ignored (and thus wasted), as though Assayas got 90 percent of the way through his script and then forgot what he was writing or why. He builds an unsettling, ethereal world, and within that setting he constructs a new and potentially interesting take on a modern ghost story (linking supernatural activity with technology!), but he lets his house of cards topple with a perplexingly reductive ending that’s as trite as it is unsatisfying.
What the film woefully lacks in the writing department, it almost compensates for with its lush direction and Kristen Stewart’s performance. Between her facial expressions, her line readings, and her finely tuned attention to the smallest bits of body language, she shines as Maureen. If you’re a fan of hers -- and even if you aren’t -- her acting makes Personal Shopper worth a watch… just don’t expect a great feat of storytelling.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2017
- Rating: NR
- Review: Writer/director Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper opens on Maureen (the truly stellar Kristen Stewart), a young woman who’s supposedly clairvoyant, as she spends a night in her recently deceased twin brother’s suburban Parisian home in order to contact his… (more)