A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.
It's been already three months since the sudden death of her 27-year-old twin brother Lewis from a congenital malformation of the heart, and Maureen, a young fashionista, assistant to a celebrity woman and a capable medium, still hasn't made any contact with him. Spending her time between high profile fashion establishments and the abandoned Lewis' house in Paris, Maureen is silently battling with the gut-wrenching grief and sorrow, while at the same time, looking for a sign from her deceased brother after an oath taken between the twins. Aloof, disoriented and still mourning, wraithlike Maureen attuned to the ethereal realm, is inevitably caught between this world and the spiritual, always looking for portals and a sign that would prove her brother right, however, in vain. Unexpectedly, as the days pass by swiftly and the random apparitions become more frequent, Maureen will start to receive strange text messages from an unknown sender who seems to know a lot about her, but in the ...Written by
Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is a personal shopper for big time celebrity Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten). She also happens to be a medium that know how to communicate with spirits from the other world and refuses to leave Paris until she gets a sign from her recently departed brother Louis.
"Personal Shopper" is one endeavor in genre mix I had yet to see. The fusion of styles, ideas and cinematic traditions is fascinating and quite off putting at the start, yet it manages to entertain audiences with moments of true suspense and fascination even though it goes completely off the rails in trying to have any emotional impact or pay off.
The film is a mixing of genre as much as it is a mixing of styles. We get these long uninterrupted shots that stalk Maureen through the house which she believes she is haunted and juxtaposes it to scenes that you would expect to find in a dark fashion thriller. This combination admittedly does give the film an inherent interest that never leaves it. The first hour or so of the movie is quite captivating in how unapologetically it brings together these various elements lacing them together with a quite arrogant use of jump cuts which result in a smart idea to link the fantastic with the mundane.
Kristen Stewart is a very effective lead, she manages to paint layers of characterization onto this person and open up an emotional place that would have easily been lost in hands of lesser actors. Her work is probably why the suspense scenes work so well. It is amazing to see how in one moment you are following a fashion discussion and you're captivated by it and in the next one you're completely scared by an apparent ghost story.
Assayas definitely has to get some credit for the structure in which the horror scenes are built, whilst he has some major problems in tackling the genre, the scenes of suspense work perfectly because of a true mastery on the technical aspect. The elements introduced are synthetic and effective and they are juggled around in a perfect attempt at audience manipulation. Moreover he manages to get a couple of really amazing and suspenseful stable shots that I won't spoil, but really stick out as gems of the technical proficiency of the film.
Unfortunately there are many story points and and emotional beats of the film that have almost no context or relevance to character here. Assayas has many problems in building the supernatural and there is lots that is either left for blatant exposition or not explained at all and left in a weird place of misunderstanding. The closure of the picture suffers immensely from this and all of the fancy genre stuff does not come together in an ending that leaves the audience completely cold and clueless on what emotions to feel.
Overall the film has some very brave ideas and motifs, but the intention behind it leaves the audience scratching their head.
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