It’s not too hard to see what problems people might have with the film. Most of the second act is just the protagonist commuting and reading messages on her phone, and there’s something about the delivery of dialogue that approaches arty-stilted. The whole atmosphere is uncanny and diffracted, and this could be taken as the awkward miss-steps of talentlessness. It’s not. Pay attention, and you’ll see that it thrives in the space between genres and tones.
This is appropriate: Personal Shopper’s story deals with the in-between space of purgatory. Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is a spiritual medium making a living as a personal shopper in Paris; between buying clothes for a rich IT girl, she visits a large house in the countryside where she attempts to contact her deceased twin brother.
At first it looks like Personal Shopper is going to keep its audience guessing whether or not ghosts exist, but any speculation is ended early on by some unambiguous special effects. Instead, director Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria) finds far more sophisticated ways to create uncertainty. As the two strands of Maureen’s life – schlepping designer trousers and contacting the dead – knit together, it’s impossible to tell where the story is going.
It’s hard to classify Personal Shopper as a horror film, or even as a ghost story. Whereas the excellent Under the Shadow had an almost smothering sense of dread, Assayas is content to evoke something like chilly mystery. His interest seems to be with something other than the film’s apparent preoccupations. By the end, it’s not even clear which things have been left unexplained.
Personal Shopper takes up residence in your mind until you address it or watch it again. In other words: it haunts you.
Read our interview with Oliver Assayas about Personal Shopper here.
|What||Personal Shopper film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
17 Mar 17 – 17 May 17, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|