Personal Shopper ⭐⭐½

The first time I came across writer-director Olivier Assayas was in the late 90s when he cast famous HK actress Maggie Cheung in Irma Vep, a film that I was disappointed to find pretentious and meandering. Sadly nothing has changed 20 years later here. Without taking anything away from a fine performance by Kristen Stewart, I was not particularly engrossed or engaged by this pseudo-supernatural psychological thriller that ultimately I find frustrating. I should confess the connection between Stewart’s character being both a personal shopper and a medium was lost on me at first. While the former provides the opportunity to dress her up in pretty and sultry scenes and the latter provides some thrills, the whole set up feels rather random and I remain indifferent and unimpressed after their relevance was explained to me in reviews I read afterwards. A clever analogy, no matter how thoughtful, does not make a good movie on its own. Too much time was spent roaming around Paris watching her shop, and when she does take a break to hunt for ‘ghosts’, or more specifically her twin brother’s ghost, I rarely feel either moved or scared. A late addition to the film sees her being cyberstalked by mysterious text messages certainly cranks up the thrills for a while, quickening the pace and finally shifts the narrative up a notch but the resolution is ambiguous and unsatisfying; and I couldn’t shake my suspicion that the ambiguity is simply due to the fact that any clear answers will only come across as contrived and unconvincing. While I can totally see this film can be interesting for some, it just isn’t interesting enough for me. It is too tame as a ghost story; too bloody obvious as a mystery thriller and too ridiculous and hollow for me to take this pseudo-philosophical claptrap on life and the afterlife too seriously.

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