It feels like a lifetime ago when we first met Kirsten Stewart as a young Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga Movies. For many young actors that franchise could have trapped you in a typecasted nightmare for the rest of your career, not Stewart. She rolled up the sleeves and worked her socks off establishing herself as a ‘go to’ actress for arthouse and independent cinema. Oliver Assayas is one of those directors who took a chance on her first with Clouds Of Sils Maria and now Personal Shopper. A Young woman struck with grief at a crossroads in life in need of direction, aloof lonely person. Is it her deceased brother she wants to connect with or someone else?
Stewart plays Maureen, a young American woman living and working in Paris as a ‘Personal Shopper‘ for her self-centred fashionista celeb client Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten). She’ll travel around the city on her scooter, board the Eurostar train to London to pick her up the latest trends in fashion and accessories. Maureen has a creative touch but her ungrateful doesn’t compliment her, Maureen even dares to try the stuff herself. She is quickly becoming disconnected from her daily life, even her boyfriend pleads with her to take time out, join him in Oman.
Maureen is also a medium which she hides from her boss Kyra, her twin brother was a medium too. He died thanks to a congenital heart condition which she has and before his sudden death the pair made a pact whoever dies first they would make a connection from the afterlife. Maureen waits in the old family home, holding a Virgil in hope of that connection. Any spare time she scours the internet for information, watching videos even old movies on mediums. Suddenly things take a step up when she starts receiving mysterious text messages from a stranger. Is it her brother or someone ready to turn her world upside down?
When you make a movie who says that movie has to be grounded in just one genre or even follow the expected tropes of that genre? Personal Shopper comfortably moves between a ghost story, psychological drama, into a Hitchcockian style thriller. This gives the movie a lot of atmospheres, mystery whilst keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat on what is going to happen next.
This movie is one that’s also about anxiety as well as grief and spiritualism. Maureen is essentially struggling to move on from her Brother’s death and making contact which suggests obsession is a big player too. Plagued with loneliness, detached from society and she uses materialistic needs to beat those urges, her mobile phone gives her that way to communicate. It feels like her world is on her phone and on a journey to London she receives anonymous text messages. Are those messages from her Brother? They do feel they are a male presence , and the messages start to become more threatening. She becomes intrigued with the mystery and she follows the instructions and she unearths a psycho-sexual desire, not just trying Kyra’s clothes but the ‘mystery man’ behind the texts. Yorick Le Saux’s camera work teases that it could be a ghostly presence or simply a new third party.
The ghosts of Twilight Saga have certainly been exorcised and laid to rest for Kristen Stewart. She carries the movie really well with a mature, fervent performance. Personal Shopper may be a strange creepy movie, but it’s a movie your curiosities flowing from start to finish.
Paul Devine | ★★★★
Drama, Mystery, Thriller | France, 2016 | 15 | 17th July 2017(UK) | Icon Film Distribution | Dir.Oliver Assayas | Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz |Buy:Blu-ray
Originally Posted at Cinehouse | 17th July 2017