In PERSONAL SHOPPER, Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) is in Paris, paying the rent by working as a personal shopper for a monstrously conceited supermodel. But she’s also a medium who shared her gift with her twin brother, Lewis. He died of a heart condition — a condition that Maureen also has. She hopes that because of their connection, her brother will send a sign from beyond. And since Paris is where he died, that’s where Maureen waits. Then, while collecting dresses and jewelry in London, she receives a mysterious text. Could it be some unknown prankster, or could it be her brother? Or could it be some other malevolent ghost from the spirit realm?
Working for the second time with French director Olivier Assayas, Stewart gives a superb performance in this mysterious, compelling story, balanced cleverly between the known and the unknown. Following their work on the excellent, Cesar Award-winning Clouds of Sils Maria, the pair revisits some of the same territory — the world of elite celebrities and the regular people who work for them. But Personal Shopper steps directly into the supernatural as well, treating it not as a jump-scare gimmick but simply as a reality.
Assayas, whose career has hardly followed any kind of conventional path, successfully tells his story in a most unusual way, with Stewart frequently onscreen alone, yet still creating a tension between a professional exterior and an uncertain interior. A long sequence in which she simply texts should have been a bore, but it’s riveting. Meanwhile, the ghost sequences don’t follow any kind of traditional genre rules, and, notably, the main character never even sees them. This is a highly uncommon movie, but for bold viewers, it’s a bracing, entrancing experience.
Theatrical release date: March 10, 2017
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Nora von Waldstatten, Lars Eidinger
Director: Olivier Assayas
Studio: IFC Films
Topics: Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time: 105 minutes
MPAA rating: R
MPAA explanation: some language, sexuality, nudity and a bloody violent image