Kristen Stewart is on uncharacteristically weak form in Olivier Assayas’ psychological drama, Personal Shopper. She plays Maureen, a personal shopper for an A-list celebrity in Paris, who’s spending time in France in order to connect with her recently deceased twin brother, Lewis.
Audiences were divided when the film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, but I struggle to imagine the film eliciting anything close to the kind of extreme opinions that reputation suggests. The film’s subject matter seems intriguing, but, in execution, this is a largely dull affair that descends into a laughable final act.
As Maureen balances her two jobs (shopper vs. medium), so the film balances evenings of haunted house investigation with daytimes of traipsing around European cities scanning racks of fiendishly expensive clothes and coping with her stubborn boss.
Neither aspect is all that thrilling, as the day job proves to be virtually arc-less – purposefully, I can only imagine – and the darkness is never all that compelling. Big second half developments fall strangely flat, and there are a couple of unintentionally comical moments right at the end, as Maureen finally starts to make some headway in the search for her brother.
Stewart, who has so often been accused of emotionlessness in the past (unfairly, I’d say), does struggle here. She never sells either her unfailing desire to communicate with her brother or her supposed hatred of her job. As a result, it becomes hard to invest in her plight and the film becomes rather aimless, although I think Assayas’ script doesn’t do her any favours.
Ultimately, I wish I’d seem some of that Cannes divisiveness up on screen. Instead, Personal Shopper is frequently dull and occasionally laughable, and it doesn’t even have an engaging Kristen Stewart there to hold it all together.
The film screened at the ongoing London Film Festival.