Heading into Personal Shopper yesterday afternoon I didn’t know what to expect and after leaving the film I can comfortably say I still don’t really know.
Set in modern day Paris Personal Shopper follows Maureen (Kristen Stewart) a lonely girl who spends her days buying expensive outfits for her pain in the arse boss Kyra and her evenings desperately trying to contact her brother in the spirit world.
No I didn’t mix up my notes that’s actually what happens in this bizarre psychological thriller and while those two elements may sound like mixing plaids and stripes somehow it works, for the most part.
While the vapid consumerism of Maureen’s day job is never as compelling as her supernatural night time activities it does provide a wonderful contrast.
And the brief period when the two do mix is easily the most compelling part of the film, setting up an interesting mystery that will see viewers through the film’s 110 minute run time.
The main reason is Kristen Stewart, who continues to demonstrate that she’s a force to be reckoned with on screen, equally capable of playing a believable bored personal shopper and a desperate medium without either facet of the character overpowering the other.
Writer-director Olivier Assayas also does a wonderful job balancing the films outlandish elements with the more banal world of high fashion. He also manages to create a wonderful sense of dread throughout the film without ever resorting to the old horror trope of quiet, quiet, bang.
As you’d expect from a film about high fashion it looks gorgeous with each scene being exquisitely shot and the design of the ghostly presences that stalk Maureen is also frighteningly effective considering how brief their appearances are.
All that said though I didn’t love the film, the main reason being that as compelling as the mystery was I was frankly left confused at the end with a lot of the movie’s more interesting elements being dropped with no real resolution.
Add to this that none of the mysteries were answered in a satisfying way and the film’s on Lord of the Rings-style false endings, none of which are as interesting as they seem to think they are and you’re left with a good but not great movie.
I also took issue with some of the movie’s more suggestive moments, a scene featuring Stewart stripping off and masturbating felt very out place and is possibly the best example of this, and they felt more like typical studio sales tactics than anything else.
All in all Personal Shopper was a competent thriller that hooked me briefly but like the clothes Maureen picks for Kyra it looked great but failed to deliver.