Personal Shopper

Movies, Drama
5 out of 5 stars
Personal Shopper

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Kristen Stewart is excellent in Olivier Assayas's magnificently unconventional Paris-set ghost story.

Amid all the mirrored surfaces and hazy ambiguities of Olivier Assayas’s bewitching, brazenly unconventional ghost story, this much can be said with certainty: Kristen Stewart has become one hell of an actor. The former Twilight star was easily the standout feature of Assayas’s last film, the slightly stilted study of actors Clouds of Sils Maria, quietly yanking the rug from under the feet of Juliette Binoche. Here, Stewart doesn’t need to steal the film from anyone: She’s in virtually every crisp frame of it, holding the camera’s woozy gaze with her own quizzical, secretive stare and knotted body language.

Her performance is a galvanizing human influence on the film, even as her character, introverted American-in-Paris Maureen, seems forever on the verge of voluntary evaporation. A haute-couture clothes buyer and general gofer to an insufferable A-list celebrity (shades of Sils Maria, though Assayas is on a very different thematic path), practicing medium Maureen is haunted, in all senses, by the recent death of her twin brother. Stalking his former abode at night, seeking a final communication, she encounters a spirit or two—but whose? And are those insidious, anonymous texts that start invading her phone from another amorphous entity?

As Maureen’s already fragile composure begins to fray, it’s hard to tell if she’s plagued by absence or uncanny presence: Even her boss is barely visible, leaving a trail of curt notes and messages in her wake. Among the many things that appear to be on Assayas’s mind is the disembodied—and disembodying—nature of modern-day communication and social media, which makes ghosts of us all. Perhaps no film has ever made the mobile phone quite such an instrument of tension: The onscreen iPhone ellipsis of an incoming message takes on breath-halting urgency.

For the preservation of enjoyment, no more should be revealed about the film’s sashay through multiple, splintered genres and levels of consciousness, except to say that Assayas, working in the high-concept, game-playing vein of his Irma Vep and Demonlover, is in shivery control of it all. And he’s found an impeccably attuned muse in Stewart, who, in one scene, pulls off a jaw-dropping silk-organza bondage gown—as well as her character’s deeper sense of sensual self-realization.

By: Guy Lodge



Release details

Release date:
Friday March 10 2017
105 mins

Cast and crew

Olivier Assayas
Kristen Stewart
Lars Eidinger
David Bowles

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