“Personal Shopper”

French director Olivier Assayas directs Kristen Stewart in yet another film. Their link first being “Clouds of Silas Maria” ( reviewed May 2, 2015 ). Here, too, life is short, personal, and mysterious. And, here too, Kristen Stewart is a personal assistant. And, here too, the cell phone plays a central role. Stewart is no longer Valentine, but Maureen; and she still likes to imagine herself  in her famous boss’ clothing.

Stewart is in frame the entire picture. She plays haunty, fragile, and competent well. Her mannerisms can be similarly seen as she is being interviewed on Jimmy Fallon this week.  The same intense, jittery, leg and sweeping hand motions elicit fear, shame and grief. She is always on the verge of something.

The title does not do justice to this spirit seeking drama. We begin in the Parisian fall, in a sparsely furnished villa with padlocks,  grilled French doors, small terraces, and smokey light. Atmospherically , we have a ghost story with moaning noises and creaky floors. We follow Maureen through almost every room as she whispers her dead twin’s name. ” Louis, are you here?”  Waverings of light play on the plastered walls. This is where the viewer will either buy into the spirit world or not.

Stewart in leather and helmet motorcycles to haute couture shops and Cartier’s. Her  busy, but bauble-loving boss, Kira, provides her with blank checks and admonitions not to try on her purchases. We shop with her as she easily picks out   Five-hundred dollar belts and two- thousand dollar purses. Kira ends up murdered, and we are back again to Maureen studying abstract art, mediums, and early spiritualists. We learn that Maureen has the same heart malformation that killed her twin brother. Vibes and Morse code-like rappings continue, and we have a second night at the villa with faucets turning themselves on full blast.

Another ghost portal produces vomiting ectoplasmic images. Maureen crouches in fear and leaves the villa peacefully to relatives. The most innovative spectral sightings may be the cell messages delivered to our ear-bud plugged luxury buyer. Thumbed texts fly like Caspar: “RU real?” “I want you, and I will have you!” “I suggest a game.” “I find Fear interesting.” ” No desire if it is no forbidden.” Can the undead use social media? Ummm.

We meet Louis’ wife, and learn that ninety-five days since his demise that she has a serious lover. Coffee and tea mugs move through the air. There is a shoot out at Crowne Plaza in London and Maureen ends up in Marrakesh . Whether you have ever felt presences or not, toying with the idea in Oman is psychically exotic. Maureen’s doctor has told her to avoid intense physical effort and extreme emotions. Could the light at the end be Maureen’s own unquiet soul ?

 

 

 

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Christine Muller

Carrying a torch for film is what I have done for over forty years, thus the flambleau flamed when I was urged to start a blog. Saving suitcase loads of ticket stubs was no longer relevent so I had to change the game. Film has been important for me in the classroom and a respite for me outside of it. No other art form seems to edge the frayed seams of life as neatly as when a film is done well. I am happy that over one-hundred countries have citizens viewing my thoughts on Word Press, and a few leaving their own with me. Over eight- hundred comments to date, and over two-hundred films reviewed.

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