Personal Shopper - 2016
Director(s): Olivier Assayas
Writer(s): Olivier Assayas
Cinematography by: Yorick Le Saux
Editor(s): Marion Monnier
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Ty Olwin, Audrey Bonnet, and Pascal Rambert
Kristen Stewart finished her run as Bella in the Twilight franchise in 2012 – and many thought she would forever be known as the "girl from Twilight." However, just like her co-star, Robert Pattinson, she has embraced her financial freedom provided by her Twilight run to star in complex and exciting independent movies, expunging away her bad reputation that she cannot act. One of the films that helped cement her as one of the best actors working today was Olivier Assayas's Clouds of Sils Maria, a performance that earned her awards and praise from the film community. And while many thought that the pair set a bar that either would never reach again, their follow-up film would prove everyone wrong.
The story follows Maureen (Stewart), a medium and personal shopper for a supermodel living in Paris. Maureen took this job because it kept her in the city where her brother died in hopes of contacting him from beyond the vale. While she does not fully believe in the afterlife, as her brother did, she cannot let go of her promise to him that she would wait for him to contact her from beyond. One day she starts to get mysterious texts, and while at first, she assumes it is her brother, the texts begin to get creepy and dangerous, sending her down a path she did not expect.
Assayas' screenplay manages to mix genres and play with expectations in a way that keeps the audience on their toes, never knowing where the story is going and how it is going to end. I was worried at first when the story shifted toward the "I hate my job as a personal shopper" part of the story, but the way he melds her anxiety in her work, with the texts and exploration of who she is as a person was impressive. The more you watch movies, the more you see patterns and tropes develop, so after a while, you can see the end goal of the film or why things are being told at the moment. So, when a movie has me intrigued as to where we are going, I get excited - especially when it sticks the landing as Assayas did with this story.
Assayas and cinematographer Yorick Le Saux create a world where it blurs the line between cinema verité and stylized films, that make its approachable for the audience to buy into what is happening, better than a "found footage" film could ever do (at least for me). I loved the simplicity of the ghosts represented on screen, and the rare use of them made their appearance that more impactful. Moving now to Kristen Stewart and her performance, and it is hard to put into words how impressed I by her and how moved (sorry that it sounds pretentious) I was in the end. Stewart raw emotions caught on screen, and her vulnerability drove home the conflict, especially when it came to the texts - she and Assayas made texts terrifying to the point that the bubbles that occur before the text being delivered filled me with dread. The final scene solely depends on her, as many film's runtime does, and she bookends it in a way that stays with you long after the credits roll.
Personal Shopper is a psychological thriller that mixes ghost, and noir genres delivering a film that is hard to pin down. It is the type of film that you have to say, even if people roll their eyes, "you have to watch it to understand it," and that is how I am closing out this review - the acting is incredible, the editing, directing and cinematography is excellent, and the story is unique. Just watch it so you can understand why I, and many others, love it so much.
Personal Shopper is Why I Love Movies.
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