J.D. Lafrance
Personal Shopper: Criterion Collection DVD Review

Personal Shopper: Criterion Collection

March 6, 2018

Director: Olivier Assayas,
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Hammou Graia, Nora Von Waldstatten,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Since starring in the popular Twilight movies, Kristen Stewart has used the clout and financial freedom she got from them to work on smaller, more creatively rewarding projects like On the Road (2012) and Certain Women (2016) where she didn’t have the pressure to carry the entire film. In recent years, she’s collaborated frequently with French filmmaker Olivier Assayas on Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), where she became the first American actress to win France’s equivalent of the Best Actress Academy Award, and recently Personal Shopper (2016). Based on these two films, they have developed a creative bond that has resulted in some of the best work from both of them.

Maureen’s (Stewart) twin brother has died recently and she is understandably traumatized by it. She’s an unusual mix of spiritual medium and fashion assistant, trying to find signs of an afterlife. In doing so, she hopes it will help cope with the death of her sibling and make sense of the experience.

An acquaintance turns her on to the art of abstract painter Hilma af Klint and after doing some research finds a link to spiritualism. Maureen also fears that she might die from the safe heart malady that suddenly killed her brother but her future health is as uncertain as her career. She is waiting for a sign from her brother from the afterlife and is confident she’ll recognize it when she sees it. She hopes this will give her some closure.

Personal Shopper shifts from a drama about grief to a ghost story of sorts in a way that requires a leap of faith on the viewer’s part. It is the point where people either stay with it or dismiss it as pretentious twaddle. It helps that the film is anchored by a very strong performance by Kristen Stewart. Freed from the constraints of big budget franchise filmmaking, she has bravely carved out an intriguing filmography that has challenged her as an actress. This role requires her to convey a range of emotions as her character starts off being detached from her feelings – perhaps still in shock over the death of her brother, but when she establishes contact with…something, she becomes very upset and the floodgates open up. How the actress conveys this is excellent.

How we deal with the loss of someone close to us is unique to the individual and very personal. Personal Shopper is about how a particular character deals with it. She’s looking for answers and some kind of closure. Assayas has created a ghost story for social media-dominated culture but not in a gimmicky way like some cheesy B-horror movies out of America. His is more thoughtful.

Special Features:

The 2K-director supervised transfer looks excellent as it really shows off the moody, atmospheric cinematography of Personal Shopper effectively.

Included is the 2016 Cannes Film Festival press conference for the film, featuring Assayas, Stewart and other cast and crew members. They field questions from journalists, talking about various aspects of the film.

There is also an interview with Assayas who talks about the origins of the film. He first had an idea of a personal shopper who hates her job and finds solace in art. He also wanted to make a film that had elements of the supernatural.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 80%

Website: https://www.criterion.com/films/29252-personal-shopper


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