Shopgirl

Adapted by Steve Martin from his own novella and directed by Anand Tucker, this wisp of a story purports to explore the perils of modern romance in the shallowest city in the world. Depressed, lonely, 20-year-old Vermont native Mirabelle Butterworth (Claire Danes) came to Los Angeles to pursue her art, which involves taking ghostly photographs of herself...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Adapted by Steve Martin from his own novella and directed by Anand Tucker, this wisp of a story purports to explore the perils of modern romance in the shallowest city in the world. Depressed, lonely, 20-year-old Vermont native Mirabelle Butterworth (Claire Danes) came to Los Angeles to pursue her art, which involves taking ghostly photographs of herself and working them over with charcoal at the rate of one piece every six months or so. She works as a glove saleswoman at Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire Boulevard, and has no idea how to make friends, meet men or even persuade her cat to come out from under the bed. And so it's with considerable surprise that she finds herself juggling the attentions of two men. Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), an undersocialized baby-man her age, is blundering through life under the impression that he's a creative free spirit rather than an aimless slacker whose notion of personal hygiene appears to have developed under the floorboards of a barn. Sharp-dressed Ray Porter (Steve Martin), a multimillionaire at least 30 years Mirabelle's senior, cloaks his fundamental selfishness with a veneer of sophisticated charm and transparently therapized "honesty." A self-described "poor judge of character," Mirabelle flails clumsily until Ray rescues her from indecision, winning her over with fawning attention and generous gifts, confounding the over-lipsticked piranhas at work who can't figure out how such a drab little country mouse nabbed a sleek sugar daddy. While Jeremy stumbles into a cross-country road trip with a hard-rocking band whose tour-bus listening leans heavily towards New Agey self-help and personal-growth lectures, Mirabelle metamorphoses into a superficially polished beauty who nonetheless clings to the childish belief that Ray doesn't mean it when he says he isn't interested in long-term commitment. Spurious comparisons to LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003) were presumably prompted by the fact that both films affect a coolly alienated tone and feature romance between a rudderless young woman and a man old enough to be her father. But while LOST IN TRANSLATION delicately suggests that even doomed, fragile connections have the power to change people in profound and unexpected ways, this arch, sour fable has little to say about the often-fractious nature of relationships between men and women. The willowy Danes' rich, melancholy characterization is sown in a barren field of snippy attitude and too-cool posturing, and the film's disingenuous air of bittersweet chic becomes deeply tiresome long before it's over.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Adapted by Steve Martin from his own novella and directed by Anand Tucker, this wisp of a story purports to explore the perils of modern romance in the shallowest city in the world. Depressed, lonely, 20-year-old Vermont native Mirabelle Butterworth (Clair… (more)

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