By Liz Lopez
Although Kristen Stewart will be long remembered for her role in the “Twilight” films during her teen years, she has gone on to adult roles since then and after the role in ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ by director Olivier Assayas, she won a Cesar in the Best Supporting Actress category. Stewart reteams with Assayas for his new film, ‘Personal Shopper’ as she takes the lead as a personal shopper to a French celebrity. At the beginning of the film written by the director, Stewart’s character, Maureen Cartwright, appears all too familiar as the celebrity assistant she played three years ago. I had a bit of eye rolling at that point, thinking that I was about to view more of the previous story and character. I had to stop myself from leaving the theater when I saw the computer generated ghost appear in the corner of the living room during a séance held in early scenes. Thankfully, Assayas story soon takes flight from the depths and begins to relate to the viewers some of what haunts Maureen as she shops by day and moonlights as a medium, while also trying to make a connection with her recently deceased twin brother. This mystery thriller has its predictable thuds and bolts, as well as a couple of glasses breaking, but it is the drama and performances that make this French feature film intriguing.
While the story may not satisfy fans of horror and ghost story films, it most likely will appeal to fans of French cinema and screenplays that are not extremely predictable. The fact that the film is told in chronological order and not totally predictable is appealing, but that is not to say that the puzzle pieces are neatly laid out. On the contrary, there is enough suspense created to leave the viewer engaged and not walk out. Fortunately, this suspense does not involve watching Maureen shop in high end stores for her fashionista and supermodel boss, Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten) who only appears once in the film – the rest of their communication is by text or hard copy messages left on a table in the apartment when Maureen drops off that day’s haul.
There is some good camera work by Yorick Le Saux, especially in the scenes in the big mansion Maureen explores at the onset of the film. The costume designer, Jürgen Doering does an excellent job of dressing down the main character in jeans and a sweater, while highlighting the beautiful couture designs saved for the stars and uber rich shoppers.
I find the filmmaker’s use of cell phone text messages interesting as part of the suspense when Maureen is continuing her efforts to contact her late brother. This current mode of communication also conveys a method of “messages” as it is not a full on conversation. She has delayed leaving Paris to join her boyfriend because his death has been hard for her to accept. As she waits for a “sign” from the other side from her brother, and the viewer follows along on her journey, just who or what is it that is haunting?
The film also stars Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Hammou Graïa, Benjamin Biolay, Audrey Bonnet and Pascal Rambert.
The film is rated R and has a running time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Hopefully viewers don’t feel like they just wasted a part of their day in anticipation of viewing Stewart partially clothed in two scenes. It is just not that big a deal.