Personal Shopper (2016)

Personal Shopper
Director: Olivier Assayas
Writer: Olivier Assayas
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Nora von Waldstätten, Benjamin Biolay
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2016

Maureen (Kristen Stewart) works as a personal shopper for celebrity Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten) in Paris. It’s not necessarily her dream job, but she has to finance her life in Paris and she can’t leave Paris, until she has made contact with her recently deceased twin brother – and she is convinced she will make that contact, even if it is taking longer than usual. She is a medium after all. But as time passes and nothing happens, Maureen starts to consider leaving anyway. That’s when she starts to receive texts from an unknown sender who knows a lot about her.

Personal Shopper has a lot to offer and took me by surprise a couple of times. But then the plot moves in a direction that I didn’t particularly care for, which ultimately kept the film from going all the way into “wow” territory.

I did not expect the ghost angle in the story at all and I really wasn’t prepared for how absolutely scary it became. The ghosts looked great, the tension was palpable and it really had me at the edge of my seat. It was the strongest part of the film for me, and I would now like an entire horror movie by Assayas, please. Gladly one starring Stewart.

The other thing that surprised me very much was that I actually enjoyed the shopping part of the story. I am not into shopping or clothes and I was worried that the film would revolve much around that. It doesn’t, though, and the parts that do work very well.

Unfortunately the film neither focuses on the horror part, nor on the shopping but pretty soon turns its attention towards the plotline around Ingo (Lars Eidinger) and that just didn’t work for me at all. It starts with the first meeting between Maureen and Ingo that was an utterly weird talk to have between two strangers who just met; to the fact that it was absolutely clear [SPOILER warning anyway] that it’s Ingo who is sending her the texts [/SPOILER]; and ending with the cut to the hotel at the end of the film that was way too big and left too much out. It was a pity that the film starts to focus almost exclusively on that part of the story.

But there was enough there to still make it an interesting film – from Stewart’s wonderfully strong performance to the art by Hilma af Klint that was featured in the film a lot. It just could have been even better.

Summarizing: Good with great parts, but not great overall.

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