Trying to shake the stigma of being Bella Swan from the Twilight
movies, Kristen Stewart has made some great role choices in recent years, from Still Alice
and Certain Women
to Café Society
and Clouds of Sils Maria
. Now, she's venturing back into the realm of the supernatural, under the guidance of her Clouds of Sils Maria
writer/director Olivier Assayas, with Personal Shopper
stars Stewart as an American in Paris named Maureen who makes a living buying clothes for her supermodel employer. Maureen is also a psychic medium, and in her free time, she wanders around the house in which her twin brother died, trying to make contact with him. Soon, Maureen starts getting frightening text messages on her phone from someone who knows every little detail about her. Maureen wants to believe that she has contacted her brother, but realizes that her texter may be something more sinister and dangerous.
There are more questions than answers with Personal Shopper
, and one gets the feeling that that's the way that Assayas intended it to be. Is the house where Maureen's brother died haunted, or just creepy? Who is behind the threatening text messages? Is everything in Maureen's head, or is it really happening? If a ghost appears and no one is there to see it, does it exist?
moves slowly, but with a purpose. Atmospheric and creepy, it's a slow burner along the lines of the artsy Ti West spookfests like The House of the Devil
or The Innkeepers
, except without the grand payoff that rewards the viewer for their patience. From a technical standpoint, Personal Shopper
is a well-made movie; Assayas knows his way around a camera and a film set. Plot-wise, however, it's lacking a lot of the elements of effective storytelling - like a beginning, a middle, and an end.
For her part, Kristen Stewart does well with her performance in Personal Shopper
. Her post-Twilight
career has been riddled with safe roles that let her act naturally and organically, and this movie is no exception. She's essentially playing herself, but with a mysterious past and an uncertain future. And she nails it. She's the best thing about an otherwise mediocre movie.
This review may be a little unfair, because there are people who enjoy glacially slow movies that go nowhere. I'm not one of them, but you may be. Personal Shopper
isn't for me, but it might be for you.
For a movie that is ostensibly about ghosts, there aren't many scares in Personal Shopper
. It's got a little creepiness, a pinch of dread, and an eensy-weensy bit of tension at times, but nothing that's going to make an audience lose any sleep. The most frightening sections of the film (which, not coincidentally, are also the most interesting) are when Maureen is running all over Paris receiving the texts that may or may not be from her dead brother, but even that inspires more curiosity than fear out of the viewer. As far as actual scares go, Personal Shopper is about as horrifying as the Twilight