Film Review: Personal Shopper

Olivier Assayas’ mystery drama Personal Shopper is strange, ponderous and frequently compelling.

Maureen is a personal shopper to a wealthy client, and well as a medium. Maureen wishes to stay in Paris as she is waiting for a message from beyond the grave from her twin brother…

Personal Shopper mixes mystery, drama, and suspense to create a memorable film. There is an air of mystery exudes throughout film. The film is not really a typical ghost story, and works all the better for offering an un-formulaic approach. Writer-director Olivier Assayas astutely transforms the focus of this mystery as film progresses. There is a theme of duality that permeates the film. Most obviously, the protagonist is a twin. However, there is the dual sense of mystery; the spirit contact and the very modern text contact. Furthermore, there is also duality of a very superficial lifestyle depicted through Maureen’s job, and the spirituality of her preoccupation.

Protagonist  Maureen is well written, and effectively conveyed. She is a lost soul; the feeling of waiting is both overtly mentioned as well as present in the film’s subtext. The film keeps other characters on the periphery. This is a smart move, as their motivations remain necessarily ambiguous. Viewers may guess who is contacting Maureen, but this does not spoil the enjoyment of mystery as the narrative unfolds. The finale of film feels fitting, exemplifying the theme that has been bubbling to the surface for some time.

Sound design in the film is great. The supernatural elements are rationed; the less is more approach works well. Kristen Stewart has made some interesting choices post-Twilight with Camp X-Ray, The Runaways and others. Personal Shopper continues this run. Stewart’s performance becomes more convincing as film progresses.

Personal Shopper is an unconventional film which offers a light touch tackling the supernatural. An enjoyable watch, and one of Kristen Stewart’s best performances so far.

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