So I had the opportunity this week to travel to Los Angeles and watch a French psychological thriller starring Kristen Stewart. Personal Shopper has a pretty interesting concept; a middleman shopper for a celebrity client who is also a Medium that has connections with the dead.
Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, When she isn’t buying expensive jewelry and dresses for her fashion icon boss, she awaits a message from her dead brother who died from the same heart defect that she has. Feeling depressed, Maureen gets a text message from an unknown number, the anonymous texter proceeds dig into Maureen’s life, but it’s not until someone dies that she finds herself asking who or what as she let into her life. Another case of style over substance. There are two different narratives that simply don’t mix with one another, it is one plot too much. The film plays up a supernatural aspect when Maureen basically becomes a Ghost Hunter in her spare time and she even claims that is what she really wants to do.
The problem is, they do not spend much time on this plot point at all. Watching the first 10 minutes you think you are going to get a supernatural thriller about a woman being stalked by spirits, but then that aspect of the story is then completely abandoned for what is essentially a carbon copy of The Girl on the Train without Emily Blunt and the Drinking Problem. I don’t know why the director and writer Olivier Assayas decided to mix these two story arcs together. It was not needed and only hurt the overall movie.
There is no balance with this movie; I’ve complained in the past about certain films feeling like 2-3 different movies in one but this one is the perfect example. It’s like someone cut and pasted Kristen Stewart previous movies into the film reel for this one. Speaking of Stewart, she is great and carries it from an acting standpoint, it’s even safe to say this is the best performance of her career. While nobody is going to knock her for this role, she simply isn’t enough to turn this movie around.
When it comes to Personal Shopper, there is a lot to like about this film, but you really have to question the decision-making in the writing as well as editing. The ending is pretty bad as it serves to ask more questions that will never be answered and feels very out of place with the other 100 minutes. The film was booed at Cannes and it seems somewhat justified. Personal Shopper is what happens when you shoot yourself in the foot creatively.
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One thought on “Personal Shopper Review: Terrible Editing Kills A Good Effort”
You are right about “style over substance” and balance. This certainly is a divisive film. Great review. For me, there was little narrative substance. The tired old floating veils, self-levitating objects, and creaky floorboards show little originality; the only fresh contribution to the genre is the iPhone as a ghostly medium. But Stewart is outstanding.