Saturday, October 8, 2016


Personal Shopper is tricky because on one hand it's beautiful to look at, it kind of romanticizes Europe in the way Americans love (the cafes, the trains, the architecture, etc) and we're seeing Olivier Assayas explore new territory in that he deals heavily with supernatural elements (parts of Personal Shopper felt like The Shining mixed with The Innkeepers...but with that unique almost uncategorizable Assayas touch). But this film could potentially come off a little empty to some (not to me, but to others). Personal Shopper is a slight return to the Demonlover/Boarding Gate-era Oliver Assayas that I love & missed so much. He teased this side of himself with last year's Clouds Of Sils Maria (my personal favorite film of 2015) but he's even more in touch with his Demonlover-esque self this time around. And while that's great for me, I completely understand if some folks roll their eyes at this one. Some of the characters are a little flat and/or uninteresting (while others, like "Ingo", played by Lars Eidinger are incredibly intriguing) and audiences may be thrown off by the mixture of a ghost story & a personal/intimate drama about loss. So while I enjoyed Personal Shopper overall (some parts are a little silly and Kristen Stewart's performance goes in & out being great to being almost self parodying) it's something I can't really defend if someone dislikes it.

In the film Kristen Stewart plays "Maureen" - a personal assistant to rich & famous people by day, , and a medium by night. She's still coping with the death of her twin brother Lewis and is waiting for some kind of a sign from him in the afterlife to assure her that he's at peace.
Eventually she's haunted/stalked by a nameless/unidentifiable entity that may or may not be Lewis.

I find it interesting that this is the second Assayas film where Kristen Stewart plays a personal assistant to a celebrity. Remember towards the end of Clouds Of Sils Maria where Stewart's "Valentine" suddenly disappears and we never see her again (kind of like how "Betty" disappears in Mulholland Drive just before "Rita" opens the blue box)? I like to imagine Valentine somehow took on a new identity and moved on to Personal Shopper (not only are both characters played by Stewart personal assistants, but they're also ex-pats with similar personalities).

I have to hand it to Olivier Assayas in that he really tried his hand at traditional scares & startling moments. He even had the nerve to throw in scary visual effects to simulate spooky ghosts (is this the first time Olivier Assayas has used visual effects to this extent?). I'm not sure if Personal Shopper is an "anti-ghost story" (...but with actual ghosts still) or if it's just a psychological thriller in the vein of a Roman Polanski film...

Personal Shopper/The Tenant
Personal Shopper/Rosemary's Baby

The only other issue I have with this movie (and others like it) isn't so much with the movie itself but with the inevitable dumb theories that are bound to come from it like with The Shining. While these theories are sometimes entertaining & well thought out, others are just plain dumb. I can see all the theories on Personal Shopper right now (kind of like that Clouds Of Sils Maria theory I just threw out earlier): "Everything was in her head all along" or "You notice how every scene where we see Kristen Stewart there's always a clock in the background set to midnight?!"

I still don't know what to fully make of this yet I did want to get some initial thoughts down while they're still fresh in my head. I will say that you'll more than likely be hearing about this again before the year is over. I'm not sure if this belongs in the honorable mention section or the "frustrating but rewarding" category in my end of the year wrap-up...


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