Sunday, August 13, 2017
Personal Shopper (2017)
DIRECTOR: Olivier Assayas
WRITER: Olivier Assayas
Nora Von Waldstatten
Anders Danielson Lie
Maureen Cartwright is working in Paris for a high profile celebrity as her Personal Shopper. Maureen also works as a medium in her spare time when she isn't being ordered around to go and collect expensive gowns from large fashion boutiques for a woman she can't stand working for. Maureen is also trying to make contact with her twin brother who passed away in Paris. When she receives strange SMS messages on her phone, she believes she may be speaking to him from beyond the grave.
Firstly, I wanted to get this out the way before I started my review for this movie. When Kristen Stewart signed on for the Twilight franchise, I feel a lot of people had already made their minds up about her. They made the assumption that she isn't a very good actress based off of a couple of films. She signed on to do this franchise about glittering vampires and the phenomenon that followed may have put her on the map to the point where she even looked like she was hating every second of starring in those films.
During her stint over the four years that the films were released one after the other and her interviews in the media. It wasn't hard to tell she was uncomfortable by the attention these films had brought her. I think a lot of people who had watched her in those films didn't really get that there was actually a talented actress in there who had proved herself with roles in larger budget movies and a handful of excellent indie films. The point I'm trying to make is that I wanted to start by showing some love to Kristen Stewart as I think she gets a lot of hate which I feel is unwarranted.
I usually wait until the end of my review to talk about the acting but I think I'll start with it this time around. In Personal Shopper, we spend the entire running time with Kristen Stewart. I think there are maybe five shots where she isn't in the frame. This performance relies on her and her only. As I sat and watched this film, I felt like she delivered a pretty brave performance. I think the tone and her character displaying a hefty amount of grief throughout, I got the same feeling with this performance as I did with Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin and Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. It felt like a performance where the actress bared their souls.
I remember hearing word of mouth on the film festival circuit that Kristen Stewart was doing a Supernatural film. Early trailers of the movie didn't inspire all that much anticipation from me. I decided to finally sit down and watch it in the right frame of mind. I had a glass of wine, I was comfortable and not at all tired. I knew this was going to be a slow burn sort of film and wanted to watch it while I wasn't tired as I would've probably watched it over the course of two or three nights if my interest was lost in it. I tend to do that if a movie doesn't grab my attention.
For the most part, I thought Personal Shopper was a good movie. Is this movie going to change the supernatural ghost story? No. With the amount of badly produced and directed supernatural films, this is a cut above at least ninety percent of them. This film feels very personal. Instead of going for jump scares and loud noises, this is all about mood. The heavy doses of grief also add a bit more depth to this story. I end up watching a lot of crap and I thought early on that Kristen Stewart as a medium sounded pretty silly but by the end of the film, I was sold.
I also really enjoyed the way, Olivier Assayas filmed the movie. Leave it to French directors to do long, lingering takes with no clear cuts. Just sit on an actress or one character and watch them as if they were in being filmed in their real environment. We have entire sequences where we watch Maureen ride around on a scooter through the beautiful streets of Paris. Or entire scenes of her just messaging someone on her phone. These long takes and the location really added something to this film. This is not going to be a filming style for everyone but I really liked this over quick cuts.
Where Personal Shopper lost points with me were just little things that I picked up on and the pacing. While I enjoyed the movie, for the most part, I'm not going to deny that there are scenes that dragged on. This is a slow burn and you feel it at times. We also have a lot of scenes that feature Kristen Stewart's character messaging back and forth with an unknown person. What really annoyed me is that you are unable to message from an unknown number. You can call from one but a message always comes through with the number. This felt like a bit of a stretch.
Lastly, is Personal Shopper scary? No. This movie is eighty-five percent a drama and fifteen percent supernatural. There are a few scenes in the film with a pretty poorly done CGI ghost but I enjoyed watching Kristen Stewart acting in something darker like this movie. We have a few scenes that manage to be pretty eerie. There is also a scene that showed the aftermath of a bloody murder that played as scary as any slasher or horror movie. I think the tone and mood served these scenes well. But will you be shielding your eyes from fear, no?
DEATH TOLL: 1
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A blood-soaked bed.
- A woman is found dead in a puddle of blood.
- Someone is shot outside a hotel.
I went in not knowing what to expect with Personal Shopper and I came out enjoying this film. This is a movie that spends the entire time with Kristen Stewart's character Maureen so if you aren't a fan of her, you will probably hate this film. The movie is held together by a fantastic leading performance by Kristen Stewart, the film looks gorgeous and the mood is eerie. Where the movie does falter is that the pace is at times a bit slow, we have a few dodgy uses of CGI and scenes that felt more like goofs. Still, this is a film that continues to show me how talented Kristen Stewart is an actress and that she can carry an entire film.