Directed by: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz and Nora von Waldstätten
Run Time: 1h 45min
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
With the roles she’s choosing, Kristen Steward has been redefining herself, and this part was a wise decision made by both she and director Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria.) Having worked with her in the past he knew that when he needed an actress to pull off the look of someone pained and tormented and to also be engaging that Stewart was the best choice. She was his supporting character is Clouds but this time she carries the entire film as Maureen. The film is a bit hard to follow at first but give it time.
You’re in the hands of a filmmaker who doesn’t want to reveal anything too soon. Pacing and all things becoming revealed in due time are critically important.
At first, it’s hard to distinguish what exactly is going on with Maureen. She’s dark and distant but at the twenty-eight-minute mark, you learn that her twin brother had died of the heart defect they both have. Not only is she sad, she’s lonely and fears for her own health. When this comes to light it explains the very beginning of the film where she quietly walks through a dark house looking to make contact with a spirit.
She’s a young American woman working in Paris as a personal shopper for a celebrity during the day but at night she’s a brooding sister waiting for her brother who, before he passed away, promised he’d make contact with her after his death. They had a pact that whoever died first, the other would reach out from the other side and give them a sign. She goes to the house she once shared with her brother and hopes to see a manifestation or feel something encouraging so that maybe she can move on with the rest of her life but it doesn’t happen so fast.
The audience is on a psychological journey with someone who may very well be better off in treatment but the way the film is rolled out; you don’t pick up on that too soon. There’s a certain strain put on you to understand Maureen because she seems so fragile but at the same time you’re getting frustrated at some of the decisions she’s making. Like when she receives text messages from a stranger and she begins to engage. What so good about this, outside of the overall tone, is it keeps you wondering, is it her brother or is it no one? Is this happening or is it in her head? With precision, Assayas does an incredible job of leading you into the trap you don’t see coming. He uses sound and music as he takes you on this trip where you’re on the edge of your seat for the entire ride, but he doesn’t really end up showing you much of anything. It’s a refreshing take on the subject and it’s a beautiful piece of art.
Personal Shopper can be creepy at times and those moments are done with a special technique. She becomes more upset, desperate and even frantic. The more she does, the more engaged with her character you become. Maureen, the personal shopper and the girl looking for a spirit, seem to be in two different movies. Kristen Stewart is so good that these two different entities become one in the end. She makes what Personal Shopper is, so special. She keeps you vested with slight changes to her character and Assayas uses everything in his power to keep from exposing the tortured young soul too soon without losing you in the meantime. Personal Shopper is gripping and intense and a movie I’d have to recommend you see as soon as you can.