Review: Personal Shopper is full of intrigue but just as likely to frustrate

Kristen Stewart as Maureen in Olivier Assayas' film Personal Shopper. Picture: Icon

Kristen Stewart as Maureen in Olivier Assayas' film Personal Shopper. Picture: Icon - Credit: Icon

The super-rich and the supernatural collide head-on in Olivier Assayas' tantalizing character study, which charts the emotional breakdown of a celebrity gopher, who moonlights as a medium.

Personal Shopper (15)

***

Personal Shopper is a story about ghosts; but it isn't a ghost story – that might've been interesting.

In the opening scene Maureen (Kristen Stewart) spends the night in a creepy old house with all the lights off, waiting for things to go bump.


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It seems like a cheat until the switch is revealed – she is a medium trying to make contact with her recently deceased twin brother who promised to send her a sign if he died first.

It's a bloody minded film, full of ambiguity and intrigue but of the kind that is likely to nark and frustrate you.

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Director Olivier Assayas is celebrated enough that he can get away with making a film that throws together various disparate elements that interest him and don't really coalesce.

The idea of giving his spiritually questing protagonist the most materialistic job imaginable – a personal shopper for a jet setting socialite – is a workable irony; having Kristen Stewart look at her most grungy and boyish as she assesses thousand euro dresses and Cartier diamonds is just irritating.

Having her cyber stalked makes a good parallel for the sense of being watched over from beyond but the film goes nowhere with it.

Maureen is defiantly unresponsive to the communications from the other side. Even when she sees a ghost, she still remains a sceptic about the afterlife, understandably frustrated by the spirit world's insistence on communicating through dropping glasses of milk, turning on taps and making banging noises.

Her frustration mirrors that of an audience exasperated by a film that refuses to come out and say what it thinks and keeps dropping hints and allusions to things that it can't deliver on.

The final conclusion perhaps is that both the Other Side and this film are just messing us about because they are ultimately not that interesting.

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