Jeez, two for two.
Yet another movie this week that I just don’t know how to feel about. So, I think it’s about this young woman, who lives in France as another woman’s personal shopper, and her… brother?… died some time ago and is now possibly haunting her. I don’t know, I’m not getting a horror-vibe from this movie. More of a suspense and psychological feel with some horror elements thrown in…? Yeah, again, not sure what to think. I don’t think it’ll be very good, but… eh, screw it, I’ll see soon enough.
Starring, we have Kristen Stewart. If I have any loyal readers, they’ll have heard this rant from me, so this will be for any newbies to my reviews. I have absolutely no problems with Stewart as an actress. I think if she’s given the right material, she can actually be good. PANIC ROOM (2001), CAFÉ SOCIETY (2016), THE CAKE EATERS (2007), STILL ALICE (2014), she’s been good and even great in movies before. The unfortunate spear in her side is the dreaded Twilight franchise, in which, no, she wasn’t good in those movies. But to be fair, no one was good in those movies. They were so horribly written that you could have had Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, and Marlon Brando in those roles and the movies would still suck the big one. The only time I’ve ever found Stewart to be a legitimately bad actress in a movie is if the movie itself isn’t good and gives her nothing to work with. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012)? ADVENTURELAND (2009)? Anyone? That’s my two cents on this chick, moving on.
Fun fact, there is no composer listed for this movie on IMDb. So unless IMDb is lying to my face, I guess this film doesn’t have a score. Should be interesting. Anywho, directing and writing is Olivier Assayas, known for CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (2014). Finally, the cinematographer is Yorick Le Saux, known for A BIGGER SPLASH (2016) and CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA.
Overall, I’m not really expecting much. But who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised.
This is my honest opinion of: PERSONAL SHOPPER
Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is living in Paris for awhile. While her day job is being a personal shopper for a high profile socialite, she’s really there to visit the site of her twin brother’s death via a heart attack. Maureen is a medium who wants to know if his spirit has lingered there. After having a few encounters, she’s not sure if her brother is, but then things come to a head as a mysterious person keeps texting her. Maureen becomes increasingly lured by her stalker and slowly gets sucked into the fancy clothes she buys for her boss.
Um… movie? What the hell?
This movie has no idea what kind of genre it is. I mean, let me run through all of them and you tell me if they sound like they have anything to do with each other. Horror. Psychological thriller. Crime thriller. Erotic thriller. Drama. I lost you around “crime thriller” didn’t I? Yeah, now you know how I feel.
I mean, at first glance, what would you think this movie is about? A young woman who is looking for the possible spirit of her deceased brother, right? Sure, okay, not a bad idea. Here’s the thing. This movie feels unbelievably bipolar because now we’re given a walkthrough of Maureen’s job of… personal shopping for her high class employer. We are subjected to the incredibly suspenseful and white-knuckle world… of shopping for expensive dresses and shoes. You had to go back and read from the beginning of this paragraph to make sure I was talking about the same movie, didn’t you? Trust me, just keep reading. It’ll save you some time, otherwise, you’re going to spend way more time than you need to on this review. Yes, for some reason, the movie thinks this character’s day job is more interesting than the ghosts that are haunting the house where her brother died. Priorities clearly went the way of a game of fifty-two card pick-up. And after we get a hardcore ghost encounter, a classic see-through, floating ghost, now we’re subjected to this woman getting creepy texts from a stalker. Or maybe it’s a ghost! Ooooooo! Or maybe… just maybe… I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!!!
Seriously, this is where the main focus goes. Gears completely shift and you can totally call this movie out on where the story will go. The worst part of it all is that nothing adds up from this point on. I mean, Maureen gets these creepy texts from someone stalking her. At first, she doesn’t know if it really is a stalker or a ghost that’s trying to reach out to her. But very quickly, emphasis on the “very”, you stop caring because all this mysterious texter does is mess with her, telling her that he’s going to meet her at her intended destination if she’s going somewhere, and telling her that he’s in the same ten foot radius, only to later say that he’s kidding… clearly behavior of a stalker. But lets give the movie the benefit of the doubt and this is actually interesting stuff that the audience is given. Whoever this stalker is has nothing to do with her twin brother, so Maureen has no reason to care about what this person has to say. It doesn’t further her interests in any way, nor help her find closure in anything that she intended to get closure for when she was introduced to the audience. It’s a detour that takes up the majority of the runtime and the dead brother storyline is completely dropped.
Furthermore, what makes all this even more stupid is how sucked in to her stalker she gets. At first, she reacts like anyone would. Demanding to know the stalker’s identity, to stop messaging or he’ll be blocked, but she keeps indulging him. She keeps giving him that opening to talk to her and she keeps playing his game. Even winds up doing what he wants by trying on the expensive clothes of her employer, despite the rules that she’s not supposed to. He even drops off a hotel keycard and she accepts it, going so far as to dress up in a hot dress. See the problem here?! No well-adjusted woman would do this and we’re not even given any inkling that Maureen mentally or emotionally unstable enough to want anything to do with this person! It’s maddening! He never shows up for whatever reason, and ONLY NOW, she goes down to the concierge to get information from the front desk on who reserved the room and the employee she talks to finds nothing about the transaction. Really? Fucking, nothing?! Let me tell you a little something. I work in a restaurant. When we complete transactions, receipts are printed. You know what is printed on that receipt? A transaction number, as well as the name of the employee who helped the guest. If the hotel can look up that the room was reserved for someone, then I’m sure somewhere in that system is the name of the employee who made the transaction. Now, you can certainly make the claim that the employee who reserved the room didn’t know the name of the person who bought it, as the room was mentioned to have been paid in cash, and maybe that same employee doesn’t remember what the person looked like, but the front desk attendant in the movie simply says, “Sorry, can’t help you.” Bull fucking shit! If my American restaurant, a borderline fast food joint that would be the hilarious punchline to any French guest-service occupation that takes even a quarter of pride in their work, keeps better records than a five-star hotel in fucking Paris, then find me a monkey and call me Uncle Daniel. I mean, for fuck sake!
Well, let’s talk about that bullshit that is this stalker. Believe it or not, this isn’t resolved very well. You could make the very real argument that it doesn’t get resolved at all. So it’s toward the end of the movie. Maureen’s employer is murdered and the stalker wants to meet up with her at the hotel room. Maureen arrives and you think that the stalker isn’t going to show up again, but… the sound cuts out just as you hear the door to the room open. We cut to… something, maybe a ghost going in an elevator and opening automatic glass doors as it leaves the hotel. But now get this, not far behind that ghost, or whatever it was, is the boyfriend that was dating Maureen’s boss. He gets arrested for killing that woman. We go at least two scene without knowing the fate of Maureen herself until she randomly appears in a restaurant to meet a friend of hers. It’s about as horribly put together as it sounds.
So… does the dead brother storyline ever get resolved? About as resolved as every other subplot in this fuckin’ movie! Maureen believes that her brother’s soul isn’t in the house that she started in and decides it’s about time to leave Paris and visit her… I guess boyfriend in another country. But as soon as she arrives, she encounters a spirit in their hotel room. She starts asking it if it’s brother, or if it isn’t, or if there’s no one there despite the clear wall-poundings from the ghost, and then it just fades to white, and… I don’t know, you interpret this ending! By the time this movie ended, I wanted out.
So now that I’ve gone on and on about how bad this movie is, is there anything that saves it? Eh… kinda. Depends who you are.
First off, each and every genre that this movie messily strings together isn’t done incompetently made. When it’s supposed to be a suspenseful horror film focusing on ethereal ghost encounters, the movie is surprisingly engaging and that’s strangely enough, where Stewart shines the best. It’s only a handful of scenes, and she’s passable throughout the rest of the film, but it’s strange that the sequences that have the least to do with the overall movie are where she’s at her best. Hell, even the ghost elements aren’t half bad. They’re inconsistent as shit, but now poorly done. Like I said, the ethereal ghosts aren’t done horribly. The on you see is visually interesting and even a tad unique in design. There’s even one where it’s looks like a real person holding a glass and a walks past a few windows and then the person disappears with only a floating glass that eventually drops. That was pretty cool.
There’s even this interesting little arch with Maureen, who dresses like a modern young woman, jeans, jacket, T-shirt, minimal make-up, the works. But she’s exploring the idea that maybe she wants to look like her high-society employer and tries on her clothes, sleeps in her employer’s bed, that sort of thing. The problem is that this doesn’t get much more development and Maureen sporadically during a tense scene decides that these fancy clothes that she’s been wearing aren’t how she wants to represent herself, and it’s all at the urging of her creepy faceless admirer.
Beyond that… I really don’t like this movie. It’s horribly incoherent and ultimately won’t be remembered. Once again, maybe if you’re a fan of Stewart, then this might be an okay watch, but only if you can manage to separate her performance from the story that she’s a part of. Otherwise, I find it really hard pressed to find anyone really liking this film as a whole. While not the worst film I’ve ever seen, what little good that’s sprinkled on it doesn’t save the overall product from being nonsensical and fairly pretentious. I don’t recommend seeing this, and barely worth watching at all. Maybe if it comes out on Netflix, but viewer beware.
My honest rating for PERSONAL SHOPPER: a weak 3/5