Personal Shopper aims high, most notably in its attempt to play with the minds and beliefs of its characters and viewers.
Maureen (Kristen Stewart) spends her days working as a personal shopper for globetrotting supermodel Kyra, buying jewellery at Cartier and the latest fashion from high-end designers in London and Paris. It’s a dull job that keeps her busy and distracted from her own life and, more importantly, from the pain caused by the death of her twin brother Lewis a few months earlier. At night however, Maureen reaches out helplessly to the beyond, trying to make use of her secret powers as a psychic medium to get in contact with the spirit of Lewis, with whom she had made a pact: whoever died first would send the other a sign.
Personal Shopper is hard to pin down: part ghost story, part drama and part psychological thriller, it also has flashes of horror running through its veins. Fear comes mainly in the form of the spirits that seem to answer Maureen’s calls, be it in the house Lewis inhabited before his death or via mysterious texts messages appearing on her phone. However, as the spiritual and the mundane in Maureen’s life become more entangled, causing her to get lost in the twilight zone between the real and the uncanny, Assayas equally loses his focus and, ultimately, his film along the way.
Ultimately, Personal Shopper is a film that aims high, most notably in his attempt to play with the minds and beliefs of its characters and viewers, which makes its imperfections stand out all the more. That is not to say that Assayas isn’t skilled in creating captivating images, yet ultimately here most of his stylistic choices fall flat, while the decision to capture the spirits in the form of smoky shadows simply feels lazy and unconvincing.
Watch the trailer: