September 11 2016
By Stephanie Chan
Personal Shopper is a beautifully curated film that speaks to the emotions closest to each viewer. This unconventional thriller touches on much more than fear, but carefully weaves in feelings of desire, grief, self-discovery, sexuality and materialism. French director Olivier Assayas and leading lady Kristen Stewart together creates an optical illusion in film; as something new is seen from every angle.
After numerous sold out screenings and highly good reviews, The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) released another session of Personal Shopper. I quickly grabbed tickets, desperate to find a film that would make me feel something. So far I was disappointed with MIFF, after watching three other films that left me confused, bored and uninterested.
Personal Shopper tells a story of a woman, Maureen who is living in Paris working as a personal shopper and waiting for a sign from her late Twin Brother, Louis. As Maureen attempts to contact the spirit world, her perception of what is reality and imagination is tested.
“Olivier has chosen people who can speak to each other without using words and that really existed when shooting…words weren’t necessary they didn’t have to be” – Sigrid Bouaziz at a press conference for the Cannes Film Festival who plays Louis’ girlfriend (translated from French).
Assayas is not a man of many words and neither is Personal Shopper. Despite minimal dialogue, the film speaks so loudly through imagery, filming techniques, expression and conversation among its audience.
Image: Little White Lies
Though this kind of ambiguous filming has been done before, Assayas’ does it in his own very unique way. He has cleverly left very small clues in the film that could lead to multiple different conclusions. In a way he lets the audience be their own detective and discover many different stories.
Personal Shopper is basically a thriller about ghosts but as a non-believer in the supernatural I saw a very different movie. I saw a story of a women’s struggle of deciphering the difference between her imagination and reality and how it begins to uncover deeper physiological issues she is facing.
In many ways, Maureen is her own ghost. She’s by herself a lot of the time spending her days running around doing errands for her celebrity boss who never really sees her. Being alone in Paris, busy with a job she hates, Maureen seems to be oblivious to her loneliness that’s lurking like a ghost.
Her isolation brings up feelings of desire, lust and danger embodied by her ghost that ultimately becomes an alternative version of herself.
But this is only one way of viewing Personal Shopper, follow the clues Assayas leaves and see what speaks to you most. See what you find because I’m sure you’ll see something very different.
4.5/ 5 stars.