Personal Shopper

An odd little film that was both an independent art-house thriller and a murder/horror mystery. However, Writer/Director Olivier Assayas eschewed Hollywood conventions and in the end, the film will leave you with questions as it lingers in your mind. But one thing for sure, this was a one-woman showcase for Kristen Stewart who although has not reached the heights of Isabelle Huppert or Assayas' ex-wife Maggie Cheung, but has now surely shown that she is one of the more underrated actresses of her generation.

Personal Shopper was essentially a simple story about grief and self-identity but Assayas had wrapped it up in a shroud of supernatural mystery and that oddly worked. He used the exploration of death and afterlife, and through Stewarts' nuanced acting, to examine the complex emotions of grief and how those emotions can affect one's rationality and action.

Assayas made many rather smart directorial choices in his storytelling, but his best decision was to have deliberately left many questions unanswered especially pertaining to the supernatural angle of the story. Yes, he does acknowledge the supernatural but he does not explain it and that actually stayed true to the spirit of the film.

However, the film was not without its fault. For one, Assayas may have found an innovative way to incorporate texting into a film, however that one long interlude of texting may have been too long. It did work thematically and narratively, but as it went on...and on...and on...our interest wavers and we slowly lose our connection to the character and the story. On the other hand, there was one use of texting in the Third Act that was pure, brilliant Hitchcockian tension.

Then there was also his decision to include Stewart's character's supposed boyfriend. Did he really served any purpose other than as an exposition tool?

This was Stewart's film and she was practically in every scene. And boy, does Stewart own it. She may still mumble through her lines but that worked here as her character's societal disenchantment and dissociation was in the fore of the narrative. As the story unfolds, and Assayas adds layers to her character, Stewart bravely embraced the complexities and her renowned resting bitch face gets a good workout as emotions flicker through and often within the same scene. She was actually mesmerising to watch.

Personal Shopper is an indie film at heart and for that, may not endear itself to a large audience, but it does tell a genuinely interesting story although it could have been tighter and less meandering/indulgent. But at least it respects the audience's intelligence.


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