Personal Shopper (2017)
dir. Olivier Assayas
written by: Olivier Assayas
starring: Kristen Stewart
Cannes managed to boo Xavier Dolan and Olivier Assayas last year, and after loving Mommy and Clouds of Sils Maria, the news distracted my anticipation. Personal Shopper, Assayas’s divisive ghost story, recasts Clouds favorite Kristen Stewart as Maureen, a stylist coddling a petulant clothes horse while tracing her twin brother’s spirit. Promised a sign of the afterlife from the first one to pass, she remains in Paris to connect with the spirit world’s known portals while tracing down overdue leather leggings.
Stewart has become a foremost actress in grounding her character. The performance he garnered from a supporting role likely queued Assayas to nab her for full attention. Though gorgeous and pensive, the plot was both too common and too ambitious to merit a Cannes debut. The introduction of mediums and the dark world of uncomfortable, heavy dresses that look so goddamn good darted the edge of cheesy horror when it wasn’t vibrant and erotic. A bit too much texting would be balanced by restless nights in haunted houses or uneasy encounters with the living. The slow pacing added tension, even if the payoffs were variable.
Costume designer Jürgen Doering brought high fashion to impeccably decorate Stewart’s breathtaking body, the black harness and green heels transform her frumpy sweaters. The diva is delivered by leather and lace. Stewart steps into her role as a tentative observer, pushing through an uncomfortable mourning, actually facing her ghosts. Her screen presence, not unlike Charlize Theron, possesses attention enough for her to simply exist as her character. She has to be tired enough of YA fiction that anything without a tween following makes her commit. Speaking to the dead is rarely a hushed venture, but the entire paranormal aspect is psychological horror from her shakes. This role feels like a transformation for her.