Personal Shopper (2016)

personal shopper movie poster 2016 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good looking and good performance from Stewart

A good movie but doesn't quite make it to great movie

Movie Info

Movie Name: Personal Shopper

Studio:  CG Cinéma

Genre(s): Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  May 17, 2016 (Cannes)/March 10, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

personal shopper kristen stewart

It is always odd when there is a ghost in a non-horror movie

Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) is the personal shopper for a high demand supermodel named Kyra Gellman (Nora Waldstätten).  She is also in mourning.  Her twin brother Lewis passed away from a heart defect that she also has.  When he was alive, both Maureen and Lewis believed themselves to be mediums for the undead and made a vow to each other to reach out from the spirit world.  With Maureen living in limbo and waiting for a sign, she begins to receive strange texts from someone who refuses to reveal his or her identity.  Could Lewis be contacting her from beyond, or is it something more sinister?

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, Personal Shopper is a supernatural psychological thriller drama.  The film premiered at Cannes with mixed reactions but garnered Assayas the Best Director award (shared with Cristian Mungiu for Graduation).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #899).

Kristen Stewart hasn’t always done much for me as an actress, but I admit that many of her critically acclaimed roles, I haven’t seen.  Generally I’ve seen her in bigger budget movies and I find her ho-hum.  I was interested to see her in Personal Shopper because she was lauded for it…and she is great in the film.

personal shopper kristen stewart texting scene

Yeah…I wonder what time of data plan a ghost has?

The movie is a really odd story and set-up.  Olivier refuses to spell out what exactly is going on (it would not be realistic for everyone to have conversations just talking about important plot points).  Instead the viewers learn the story as they watch the film.  Stewart’s Maureen seems to be flailing emotionally and reach at straws for her “sign” of what she should do.  While a normal person would be highly suspect of a series of text messages from an unknown source that seems to know so much about her, Maureen doesn’t see that since she is desperately looking for signs…it is affecting her logic and reasoning.  In a way it has a bit of Don’t Look Now feel to it in that sense…instead of attempting to be a horror movie (which it easily could have turned into), it takes the drama road and exploration of loss and the limbo that can come from it.

Kristen Stewart is very strong in the lead in this movie.  Maureen is a mess.  A great sign of her ability is to contracts the scenes of her “breaking the rules” and trying on the clothes of Kyra (to try to become another person and put her world behind her), and the scene on the train which she is literally shaking in fear because she might finally be getting the sign from the afterlife she’s wanted or facing a potentially dangerous stalker.  She can’t put her phone down, but she also can’t look at it.  It is the strange dichotomy that drives her character and most of the movie.

personal shopper dresses kristen stewart

Which Maureen are you?

The film is stylishly shot.  It has a really normal feel, but there are some moments of terror (like the appearance of a specter in the middle of the film).  It further boosts Maureen’s doubt since she is contacted by someone but not by her brother.  If there is something else, why isn’t he the one reaching out?

Personal Shopper isn’t a perfect movie by far, but it is an interesting one.  It looks great, has a strong performance, and raises some interesting questions about life and death.  I feel that the movie just starts to peel back some layers of exploration throughout the movie, but then doesn’t expand on the exploration.  It just needs a little something to get it over the hump and be a great movie…and that is always the frustrating part with some films.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response