MOVIE: PERSONAL SHOPPER
STARRING: KRISTEN STEWART
DIRECTED BY: OLIVIER ASSAYAS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Kristen Stewart has begun to develop an entirely unique acting style all on her own. I like to call it “awkward auteur”. The actress may forever be remembered for being “the girl from Twilight”, but she has done a complete 180 over the past 5 years. She made her star turn in Clouds of Sils Maria, played a tough and conflicted prison guard in Camp X-Ray, worked with Kelly Reichardt in Certain Women, and showing her adorable charm in Woody Allen's Cafe Society. All of those performances are serious, great work by Stewart, and that perfect awkwardness is on display again in the creepy and uniquely weird Personal Shopper.
This is a reunion with her Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas, whose work speaks for itself, making films that with female leads dealing with their own personal struggles. Stewart stars as Maureen Cartwright, a personal shopper for a French actress. Maureen's twin brother recently passed away from a heart condition and she is let into a home by what are the new owners of her brothers house, as she seeks for one more sign that her brothers spirit still exists. Spending her days finding the finest clothes and jewelry for her client, weird things start to happen. Signs that maybe her brother speaks from beyond.
One of the most impressive things about Personal Shopper is an entire sequence where Maureen takes the train on a trip to Paris to do more errands for her employer- Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten). While on this train ride, she begins to receive mysterious text messages from an unknown person...or thing. What's fascinating, is that director Assayays does a spectacular job of making an ominous ghost text chain actually entertaining. For a solid period of the film we are just hearing the clicking, ticking, whoop noise of an iPhone text. What transpires throughout the communication is a temptation of mystery for Maureen, as Stewart allows the spirit to haunt her fears.
There is plenty of praise to go around, as Assayas, both wrote and directed Personal Shopper. The magic is clearly still there between the director and his star. The camera is always focused on her mannerisms and twitching hands. Things become even more intense when the ghost or spirit begins to change Maureen's life in ways that she may not recover. The resolution that comes of it all at the end, will leave audiences with an eerie feeling, sensing how spirits can watch over us. Some visitors, we may be searching for, and others just happen to be found.
Had Personal Shopper cast any other actor than Stewart, this film would be a completely different result. The fear and the tension is created with relative ease from her body language. Outside of Stewart, there are very few interactions with other people. There is a brief conversation between Maureen and Kyra, while she's on her phone. There is also a debate with Kyra's boyfriend (Lars Eidinger) about what they are afraid of in life, that seems to have significance to choices they will need to make in the future.
Ultimately, the eerie setting of Personal Shopper is enough to scare audiences and fascinate them at the same time. I continue to be a huge fan of Kristen Stewart and the risks she takes in cinema. Here is a movie that tells one of the more unique and updated ghost stories that we could see. Her performances are meant to challenge the audience and for her, it seems to be something that becomes personal.
Written by: Leo Brady