Movies

Personal Shopper (Movie Review)

2016
Rated R
Starring Kristen Stewart
Personal Shopper is a psychological mystery and a bit of a ghost story with a very good performance from Kristen Stewart and a script that doesn’t know what it wants to say.

Stewart’s character Maureen is in Paris waiting for a sign from her recently deceased brother. She uses her apparent powers as a medium to try to find his spirit in his house. To make the rent while she waits, she has a job as a personal shopper for a rich socialite. She’s actually quite good at the job, though she hates it. I think the movie wants us to find something deep in juxtaposing her choices. If there’s something there, it’s too esoteric for me.

The movie does have some suspenseful moments as the mystery takes a turn, and a bit of horror thrown in. The pacing is slow, or because the director Olivier Assayas is French, I refer to the pacing as French. French movies (and other non-American films, actually) have a deliberate pacing that is almost totally absent in commercial American dramatic films. Personal Shopper doesn’t have much of a plot and the movie spends most of its time in Maureen’s head. We spend a lot of time watching her ride her motorcycle and, one would guess, we are watching her think hard about what has happened or is about to happen. I bet there’s 5 minutes of motorcycling around Paris.

Kristen Stewart is really good in this film. She hits a range of emotions and is captivating to watch on camera. (She’s helmeted in the motorcycle scenes, but I’m going to assume she acting the hell out of those jaunts across town.) Her performance is the strongest part of the movie. The rest of the film is just trying to tell us about past lives, or finding ourselves, or facing our fears, or any number of things. It throws in a lot of information that seems to be there just to be clever, or deceptive. These bits allow the story to become unfocused which leads to an inconclusive, cop-out ending.

 

Personal Shopper: 3 out of 5

Good: Stewarts performance, interesting scenes of suspense

Bad: What the hell is the movie trying to say?

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