Thursday, 27 October 2016

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: PERSONAL SHOPPER review


Re-teaming with her Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas, Personal Shopper stars Kristen Stewart as a medium in Paris haunted by the death of her twin brother.

Based on a promise to send a sign from the other side that she and her brother Lewis made to each other before he died, Kristen Stewart's Maureen has remained in Paris, visiting fashion houses to find outfits for the vapid celebrity she works for. Soon she finds herself falling into a world of death and suspicion that may have more to do with her than she wants to admit.

There's no getting around it. Personal Shopper is a completely bizarre offering that is impossible to pigeon hole; but since when should that be a negative thing? Mixing genres in a manner that should create a red carpet disaster, instead we're given a wholly unique and bold statement that is equal parts head turner and head scratcher. It starts in a seemingly traditional haunted house set up where Maureen believes her brother's spirit may still be, before adding in a hefty dose of workplace boredom (despite her job looking kind of fun), topped off with a prolonged dialogue free sequence where Maureen has a flirty text based game of cat and mouse with a supposed admirer/potential stalker, all while travelling to London and back on the Eurotunnel.

Surprisingly, among all this chaos the film actually works; as a dark comedy, as a ghostly chiller and as a piece of entertainment. That could be attributed to the bold direction of Assayas, but more so the praise should be levied at Stewart. Moving further away from her role in the Twilight films that made her a star, here she continues to announce herself as an actor to be reckoned with. As Maureen she is in nearly every frame of the film, her fantastic ingrained laisse fair expression befitting her character perfectly. Stewart is known for that slightly cold disconnection that has followed her throughout her career, and in many ways she is the ultimate millennial malaise poster girl; but a fearless approach to role choices has served her well in recent years and will continue to define her as an actor more than those sparkly vampires ever did.

With its elements of horror and the fashion world coming together, there's a risk of it being compared to Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon, although this is a much darker affair that will keep audiences guessing right up until the final moments of the film. A wickedly bizarre marriage of Pret-a Porter/The September Issue and The Orphanage/The Others, Personal Shopper is a completely baffling film that defies all expectations. A goofy delight.


Verdict
5/5


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