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Personal Shopper - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Personal Shopper
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: C+

Here is a prime example of a movie beloved by critics yet dismissed by general audiences: compare its 79% "fresh" rating to the 56% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The difference is closer over on MetaCritic.com, where the critic rating is 77/100 versus 72 by users. Even there, though, the critics like it better.

I liked Personal Shopper myself, but who would I recommend it to besides movie snobs? I can't really think of anyone. I found it intriguing for a number of reasons, none of which are likely to resonate with your average movie-goer. It might do better later on streaming platforms where those with more esoteric tastes can seek it out.

It's certainly odd. That's a plus in my book. Although mostly in English, it's actually a French film, and it stars Kristen Stewart, who also starred in writer-director Olivier Assayas's previous film, Clouds of Sils Maria. Stewart plays an assistant to a famous actress in both films, which are about equal in quality. The difference is that this time the woman Stewart's character works for is played by someone far less well known, in a smaller part.

Instead of being a personal assistant, though, this time Stewart plays Maureen, who is -- you guessed it! -- a personal shopper. This detail is dwelled on a great deal yet is incidental to the plot. Ultimately, this is a ghost story, which is part of what makes the film's title frustratingly misleading. Maureen is the surviving twin with the same heart condition that killed her brother. They were both "mediums," and they made a pact that if one died, they would send the other a sign. Maureen spends much of the story waiting for this sign.

She even comes into contact with a spirit in the house her brother used to live in, but which is not her brother. She spends a lot of time in this house, trying to feel for any otherworldly presence, evidently for a couple who used to be close to Lewis, Maureen's twin. An extended sequence of Maureen walking through the dark and empty house opens the film, and due to its large and echo-filled size, there is an immediately eerie tone. When she encounters the actual spirit later in the film, it's the one element of special effect seen, and the scene is riveting. Unfortunately very little about that spirit is fleshed out.

Instead, Maureen starts getting anonymous texts on her phone, goading her into trying on the expensive gowns of the woman she shops for. We're meant to wonder at first if these messages are coming from her brother, but the answer to that question becomes clear early on. Still, her brother does factor into the proceedings by the end of the story, in a fairly creepy way.

That said, I found the ending genuinely baffling, and its almost pointed oddness deteriorated what otherwise might have been a better film. Personal Shopper benefits from existing very much in its own realm, making it a unique experience. Ironically, however, that experience is also not very deeply memorable.

personal shopper

Overall: B
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