Personal Shopper

500 Days Of Film Reviews Personal Shopper, Starring Kristen Stewart

By day, Maureen (Kristen Stewart) works as a personal shopper, biking around Paris buying exquisite couture for her jet-setting celebrity client. However, by night, she attempts to channel the spirits of the dead, hoping to make contact with her recently deceased twin brother. 

 

When Maureen begins receiving a series of chilling text messages, it seems she may have made contact - but with whom? And what do they want? 

Is It Any Good?

Personal Shopper is a gripping, atmospheric film that both plays with and subverts genre. Olivier Assayas' film is a horror movie, a Hitchcockian psychological thriller and an intimate, emotional drama. Thanks to his brilliant direction and a superb central performance from Kristen Stewart, Personal Shopper creates an intriguing blend of tropes and themes.

 

Casting against type, Assayas places Stewart in the role of ‘ordinary’ girl, Maureen. We would, perhaps, have expected her to portray Maureen's glamourous celebrity boss, Kyra (portrayed by Nora Von Waldstätten). However, Stewart clearly relishes more challenging, less obvious roles - a fact acknowledged by Assayas, who wrote the part with her in mind. 

 

An American in Paris, Maureen is a fish out of water. She keeps her distance from the living - finding herself both attracted and repulsed by her boss. Conversely, believing that she is some form of medium, Maureen is desperate to connect with the spirit world and her recently deceased brother, Lewis, in particular. 

  

 

Maureen visits Lewis’ house in the hope of finding him and reassuring herself that he is at peace. As a result, when she hears strange and threatening bumps and creaks, she moves towards the sound instead of running away. She welcomes any signs of otherworldly presence.    

 

"It was exhausting to be in that character all the time,” Stewart reveals. “Even when I was in a scene with other actors, I could never really be with them. It’s as if they were all ghosts. I didn’t consider myself to be a finite person. There couldn’t be the slightest interaction between me and them because I didn’t really feel like I existed. That plunged me into a very painful state.”

 

You can feel the toll Maureen takes on Stewart. She gives everything in this moving exploration of grief and it is thanks to her that Personal Shopper draws us in and holds us so tightly in its grip.

 

 

Alongside his ghost story, Assayas’ film also looks at the impact of today’s technological connectivity. Text messages have never felt so sinister nor mobile phones so supernatural than in the central part of Personal Shopper. 

 

It is here that the movie becomes an intense Hitchcockian thriller. Maureen receives a series of anonymous and provocative texts. In her heightened state, she wants to believe these messages are from Lewis. However, she begins to suspect that someone else may be responsible.  

 

As Personal Shopper moves into its final act, Assayas brings all of his themes together. The ending is stunning, thought-provoking and also surprisingly uplifting. I can’t wait to watch this film again. 

 

Random Observations

If you enjoyed Personal Shopper, I would recommend Olivier Assayas’ stunning film, The Clouds Of Sils Maria - also featuring an impressive performance from Kristen Stewart.

 

Have you seen Personal Shopper?

 

If you have, what did you think of Olivier Assayas’ film? Let me know in the comments section below or let’s chat over on Twitter or Facebook!

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