By: John Rocker and Aaron Halls, Free Press Staff
Personal Shopper is directed by Olivier Assayas. It follows Maureen (Kristen Stewart), a young woman who’s been living in Paris since her twin brother’s death, who works as a personal shopper for a rich and busy celebrity figure. When not working, Maureen frantically searches for a sign from her dead brother. After she witnesses a series of strange occurrences, she decides to find out who is behind them.
What Did We Like?
A: The main element this movie had that worked for me is Kristen Stewart’s performance as Maureen Cartwright. Here she employs a lot of subtle non-verbal dramatic touches that make her presence on the screen magnetic. Because of this, her character is compelling to watch, even when the other elements of the film are not successful. As audience members we really get a sense of the grief Maureen feels after she loses her brother and of her intense desire to find a sign from him from beyond the grave. Director Olivier Assayas also executes a couple of tense and suspenseful sequences in the film that make use of excellent sound design and cinematography.
J: I agree with Aaron. Stewart is without a doubt the best part of this film. It’s difficult to maintain such good consistency, especially since she’s pretty much in every scene. There’s no diverting to a subplot. The character of Maureen is the focus of the film.
What Did We Dislike?
A: While watching this film, a lot of the time I thought to myself, “What’s the overall intention of the piece?” Sometimes it feels like a character study focusing on the the day-to-day life of Maureen, and other times it feels like a tense psychological thriller. The movie seems to lack a sense of structure and focus, and because of this there are a lot of boring scenes that meander. I feel that cutting some of these scenes could have tightened the film’s pacing and made it more engaging overall.
J: I’m not sure if I would even call the film tense, with the exception of the first sequence. There is a portion of the film where Maureen is being texted by a stranger. It might be her dead brother, or it might be someone different.We don’t know. The problem with this scene is that it kills any tension it tries to build. It’s just texting. Is the content of the conversation odd? Sure, but the fact that this conversation felt so distant and that it was something made to be personal just completely killed the film for me.
Who Do We Think This Is For?
A: I think if you’re a fan of excellent acting performances and/or Kristen Stewart, you’ll get some enjoyment from Personal Shopper and should give it a shot despite its negatives. She definitely was the movie’s saving grace for me.
J: There’s not many people I would recommend this to. If you want a good performance, you’ll get that, but that alone isn’t enough to save a film that feels relatively empty.
A: Avoid It
J: Avoid It