‘Personal Shopper’: Kristen Stewart Best Performance To Date | Film Review
The loss of a loved one is more than an occasional theme at the movies. In fact, most drama deal with some kind of loss but never quite in the way Olivier Assayas has attempted to do so in Personal Shopper.
Personal Shopper is Olivier Assayas‘s second major feature following Clouds Of Sils Maria, reuniting him with Kristen Stewart. The film revolves around a ghost story within the flashy world of fashion.
Maureen is a young american girl living in Paris and mourning the recent death of her twin brother, Lewis. Both Maureen and Lewis were mediums and made an oath to each other that they would send a message from the beyond in the event of one of them dying. Awaiting a sign, Maureen moonlights as a personal shopper for Kyra, a rich socialite.
Maureen spends her nights wondering around her brother’s house, alone. One night a spirit does materialize. Scared out of her mind, Maureen runs to London to collect garments for Kyra. While on the train, Maureen starts to receive anonymous texts. It knows her, it sees her, it wants to meet her. Could it be Lewis?
Closed off, Maureen appears isolated in most of her scenes and it does not take much for her to engage in an intimate conversation with a complete stranger. Burdened by the same disease that took her brother, Maureen is obsessed with the “forbidden”. If her brother died, why would she be allowed to live?
When her mysterious stranger challenges her to try on her employer’s clothes, she does not hesitate. She even goes further, trying on Kyra’s underwear, using Kyra’s computer and even sleeping in Kyra’s bed. It would be easier to just pretend to be someone else or even live in denial, forever cohabiting with a ghost.
During the day, Maureen goes from store to store choosing garments for Kyra. The complete disregard and lassitude that Maureen has for her job only reinforces how meaningful the search for her brother is. Maureen does not seem to be living her own life.
She lingers in an “in between” stage, desperately trying to find herself beyond her grief and without her “other half”. Even when drawing, Maureen seems stuck in what looks like the same gloomy empty house.
When Maureen finds her employer violently murdered in her apartment, the texts start again but this time in a different tone. The stranger seems nervous and urges Maureen not to mention the texts to the police. The wounded ex lover seems like an obvious suspect but Maureen, blinded by her grief, still sees a ghost. A ghost, coming to meet her at the hotel, taking the elevator and exiting.
Slamming doors, water tap mysteriously turning on and frightening cross sign scratched on the wall. Maureen looks for Lewis everywhere, on every wall, behind every door and even in every anonymous text. But still Maureen is not convinced or perhaps she is simply not ready.
In the final and most powerful scene, Maureen has gone off to meet her boyfriend in Oman and it looks like she has finally moved on. That is until the floating cup. The frustration and disappointment on her face are palpable. She yells out and attempts to communicate with her brother, hoping for a final answer which she eventually gets from within.
Being haunted by a ghost is nothing more than dealing with the lengthy, challenging and heavy process that is grief. Assayas‘s juxtaposition of the supernatural with daily, almost routine, activities creates a haunting and fascinating tale lifted by Stewart most touching performance to date. People can grieve in different ways but we all have ghosts. Creepy ghostly elements, yes, but unrelatable, definitely not!
Assayas‘s next project is Idol’s Eye, a thriller following a thief who steals a blue diamond, starting a war with a Chicago mob boss. The film will star Robert Pattinson, Rachel Weisz and Sylvester Stallone, set to be released in 2018. Stewart will stare in Craig William Macneill‘s psychological thriller, Lizzie, based on the infamous 1892 murders of the Borden family, alongside Chloë Sevigny.
Personal Shopper premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May and has been released in the UK on March 17.
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