19th Jul2017

‘Personal Shopper’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Hammou Graïa, Nora von Waldstätten, Benjamin Biolay, Audrey Bonnet, Pascal Rambert | Written and Directed by Olivier Assayas


Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is a Personal Shopper by day and a ghost hunter by night. Trying to find proof her brother is communicating with her from beyond the grave she hires herself out to investigate houses that may hold the key to an experience with the dead. When she is communicated though, is the from beyond the grave or something much more alive?

At the start of Personal Shopper, you can’t ignore the fact that Kristen Stewart feels to be playing that typically awkward pale character we’ve seen in the past. The fact is though, there is a good reason for it. Weighed down by not only a job she feels uncomfortable in, but also a foot in the world of the dead, that is exactly how Maureen should be played.

What may be confusing to some of the audience is why her job as the Personal Shopper takes so much focus in the film. Working to dress an egotistical celebrity, this draws her into a dangerous relationship via text message with somebody “unknown” (as the name suggests on the caller ID). It is telling that she believes that this person could be something paranormal, it fits her obsession. This to me is the key of the film, it is all about the obsession and not the experience.

This unknown person drags her into a relationship that pushes her to move into forbidden acts, and in many ways, gives her what she needs. This makes her take steps in her life and actually make progress, instead of refusing to move on with her life.

The obsession we see in Maureen comes in the form of doing the forbidden in the chance of getting some excitement out of life. Whether it is wearing the clothes she purchases for her client, or pushing against the gateway to the undead to find her brother, Maureen pushes the boundaries. It is telling that she has so much fear from taking action, whether it be in the land of the living or the dead.

She gets excited by doing forbidden things, even if there is a cost surrounding the situations she puts herself in. If anything, Maureen creates a situation where she feels forbidden to move on in life and take action. When she is pushed to do the forbidden that is when her story progresses.

This is where Personal Shopper becomes a unique and often confusing experience for the audience. Director and writer Olivier Assayas doesn’t just give us a conventional ghost story and leave it at that, he creates a film about taking actions, and the consequences that this creates.

Those looking for a ghost story may feel slightly disappointed with Personal Shopper, but the payoff for the supernatural side of the story is fairly fulfilling for those looking for answers. We are given a beautiful scene that finally gives Maureen an answer, even if she doesn’t realise it herself. It is typical of her character that we have to wait for a further scene to wake her up to the fact and for the character herself to get her answer.

In many ways, Personal Shopper is a film that relies on the performance of Kristen Stewart and she definitely delivers here. While Maureen may feel a little pretentious, this is exactly how she needs to be. She is an awkward character looking for answers in a world she refuses to move on in, and it is only in taking steps into the forbidden does she feel alive. Stewart conveys this well in her performance, and gives the film the focus that it sometimes struggles to find.

If you watch Kristen Stewart to see what performance she gives, then you’ll be happy with Personal Shopper. If you are looking for a ghost story though, you may be a little disappointed. This isn’t a typical story of the supernatural, but more a look at the character of Maureen and her need to take action in the world and move on. Watch Personal Shopper without expectations and you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

****½  4.5/5

Personal Shopper is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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