Film Reviews

PERSONAL SHOPPER

By • Apr 2nd, 2017 •

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A collaboration between director and star, with the right screenplay, should eventually produce something brilliant. This is merely an acceptable vehicle for Stewart.

I do not understand how Kristen Stewart was given so much acclaim for Olivier Assayas’ 2014 Cannes competition entry, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, since her character unexpectedly vanishes from the last third of the film. Stewart was a prop to advance the star, Juliette Binoche’s character. But that was not her fault. Here, Assayas has given Stewart another opportunity and this time the actress is in every scene. Stewart carries the film.

Maureen Cartwright (Stewart) is a personal shopper for a glamorous celebrity, Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten). Since Assayas and Stewart probably know a great deal about international celebrities, we should have been given a closer look at what that life is like.

What we only know is that Kyra is considered a “monster” by those who work with her and she does not allow Maureen to try on any of the clothes she selects for her. This is forbidden. Since Maureen has very little face-to-face contact with Kyra, it looks like a pretty good job. But not for Maureen. She hates it. Since Kyra can only write 4 words per note, and Maureen has access to her vast Parisian apartment, you’d think this is would a great gig.

Isn’t Maureen ever gifted with stuff from the designers she selects for Kyra? After all, she is the one who picks the clothes. She also is the one who must return them in good condition. Sometimes there are problems with that. Kyra could afford to keep what she wants. What designer would not give her a pair of leather pants she likes so much she wants to keep them?

Even though Maureen is Kyra’s assistant/personal shopper, she does not have an exciting “friend of” life. No last season designer cast-offs for her. Maureen is one of those celebrity influencers who do not follow any trends and has nothing but her own sweatshirt and pants. This is the way every employee to a star looks. They are not to be the center of attention for even one moment. They must not present a personality that might outshine their employer.

This is a perfect role for Stewart. She works best in silence. And there is a lot of silence in her performance. Maureen is in a depression. Her twin brother, Lewis, has died suddenly. She has the same disease. Somehow, Lewis, who makes furniture, has amassed a grand house. His partner, Lara (Sigrid Bouaziz), wants to sell the property but the house may be haunted. Maureen goes to find out if Lewis, a medium as well as a carpenter, is still around trying to make contact. Maureen and Lewis promised each other that whoever went first, would try to contact the other one.

Maureen is waiting for a definitive message. Whatever Lewis tries to do, she is not satisfied. She wants a big reveal.

Twins do have a very strong connection. If identical, they share the same DNA. The natural occurrence of twins is just 2 percent of pregnancies. Having twins has become very popular. For the famous, twins are a way to get two babies out of a nine month pregnancy. And with women over 40, its de riqueur, since IVF treatments produce multiple embryos. (In 2013, the last year for which there is data, 41.1 percent of all IVF deliveries were multiples. (Therefore, the recent rumor of IVF for Amal Clooney and Beyonce).

Ingo (Lars Eidinger) is Kyra’s boyfriend. He knows she is ending their relationship and talks to Maureen quite frankly. Why is she Kyra’s personal shopper? Does she want him to help her get a better paying job? Maureen is not ambitious and doesn’t seem to mind his rather rude comments about her circumstances.

PERSONAL SHOPPER moves into two diverse areas. Maureen starts getting text messages from an unknown source. He seems to know a great deal about her. Then there are the strange phenomena that keep presenting themselves to Maureen.

Maureen is interested in the unknown text sender and so are we.

Stewart has a great deal of confidence in Assayas, doing a nonchalant nude scene. Their collaboration should, with the right screenplay, eventually produce something brilliant.

This is merely an acceptable vehicle for Stewart.

Member of the Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com

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