Is there another film like Personal Shopper? Hard to say. A ghost story that fluidly switches its themes and genres, all framed within the Paris fashion world. Bringing it all together is a solid performance from lead Kristen Stewart, who, by the end of the film will convince any doubters of her ability to act.
The central premise of the movie has Maureen (Stewart) trying to establish some sort of contact with her deceased twin brother. A good bit of the beginning shows her exploring an empty mansion alone. Setting and design work wonderfully here, establishing a supernatural vibe that plays and feeds on Stewart’s reactive performance.
After the initial exploration, the film branches off into different fragments. Maureen’s job as a personal shopper, her yearning to connect with her brother and dealing with an unknown person contacting her via phone. Back and forth the film weaves in and out of the threads and most of its transitions are deftly handled by the director. Maureen, on the other hand, is not so great. She is dealing with all of this as it comes— from off the cuff aloofness to visible frustration, Stewart’s range shines.
Near the end of the movie, and a couple of hour after that, I began to realize the film is not only about grief, but also identity. Trauma can cause self-reflection. Maureen has been spending 3 months doing that but it seems like she is still searching. She thinks getting closure between her brother and the existence of an afterlife will somehow help get her own life together, but viewers are left to wonder. Like the spirits that she can communicate with, she is lost and bouncing around from thing to thing.
Personal Shopper is not without its missteps, though. For all the switching the film does, there are some parts where it misses the landing. Sometimes it feels like it’s doing too much for the viewer to pick up on and sometimes it feels too little. It’s a heady film that may lead people on to only see what is in plain sight. Despite the arthouse shortcomings and its tone-deaf texting scenes, I’m leaving my padding in to boost its rating up. There’s enough meat here in that I’m thinking repeat viewing will only make the experience more enjoyable.
Director: Olivier Assayas
- The alternate universe where Personal Shopper is Kristen Stewart’s action vehicle instead of Snow White.
- Personal Shopper 2: This time…It’s personal.
- I’ll be on the lookout for Personal Shopper costumes in October.
- I’m glad the film didn’t beat around the bush with its supernatural element.
- Hotel exit scene