Ben Oliver

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Personal Shopper

You know how they say the dead watch over the living?
29 January 2022

A woman (Kristen Stewart) grieves over her twin brother who died in Paris. She stays and lives in the city hoping he will give her some sort of sign from the afterlife. In the mean time she is employed as a personal shopper for a wealthy woman, and is dealing with mysterious text messages from someone apparently very close to her.

Personal Shopper is part erotic thriller, part ghost story and part essay on wealth and grief in modern times. Yet it handles its tonal shifts gracefully, using Kristen Stewart’s excellent performance to tie it all together. It’s fun to see the minimalism and naturalism that failed her in Twilight working so well for her here (and seemingly in every other film she’s made since the vampire films).

Also, at the risk of sounding flippant, this is how you show texting on screen. Trust your writing, just show the messages on the phone screen, but also don’t forget the nuances—the time waiting for a reply while you see the other person typing, the read receipts, the slight pause before you hit send for a quick tone-check. It unexpectedly makes for some of the best scenes in the film.

Perhaps there are a little too many moving parts in Personal Shopper but I can’t say I found it to be anything but a profound, intense and moving film with a poignant and pitch-perfect lead performance.

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