Kristen Stewart Reteams With her CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA Director to Great Effect
Directed by Olivier Assayas
Starring Kristen Stewart, Nora von Waldstatten, Lars Eidinger
Released March 24th, 2017
Maureen Cartwright wants to hear from her twin brother Lewis. She hopes to hear from him soon. She’s desperate to hear from him. Lewis died a few weeks ago, from a genetic heart issue the twins share. Lewis and Maureen are mediums, able to sense the presence of spirits. Maureen’s waiting for Lewis to give her a sign from the afterlife. So far he’s been silent.
It’s a meditative mood piece concerning life, sexuality, and death, but also has a focus on our place in the world and what we do with it.
Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is an American expat working in France as a personal shopper for Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten), an ultra-famous person she barely sees. Maureen’s job means nothing to her. Her focus is reaching out to her brother. During the course of her workday, Maureen shops for clothes and accessories for Kyra and travels on her motorcycle to make deliveries of goods to Kyra’s empty hotel rooms. It’s a lonely job that Maureen dislikes.
Maureen starts to get text messages from an unknown source. Are they from Kyra? A stranger? Could they be from her deceased brother? This wordless exchange of text messages becomes more unsettling and intense as the hours go by, with Maureen vacillating between intrigue and horror. She’s been warned not to try on the fancy dresses she purchases for Kyra. The texter tells her to indulge. She eventually gives in to her desire.
Kristen Stewart became the first American to win a Cesar award (the French equivalent of the Oscar) for her work in director Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria. While working with her on that film, Assayas wrote Personal Shopper with Stewart in mind for the role of Maureen. Long capable of strong performances, Stewart’s work in Personal Shopper may be the best of her career. She’s in almost every frame and she holds you glued to the screen as she navigates uncharted emotional waters.
Editor Marion Monnier, who worked with Assayas on Clouds, brings more abrupt fade-outs and unexpected cuts to the film, earning it a dizzying quality. Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux bathes the film in exquisite colors, making Maureen’s night time bike rides lull you into a calm trance.
Olivier Assayas has created a film that’s impossible to categorize in one genre. It’s a meditative mood piece concerning life, sexuality, and death, but also has a focus on our place in the world and what we do with it. It’s also a ghost story, with some of the spirits that reveal themselves to Maureen being reminiscent of the ghosts in Lewis Allen’s 1944 classic The Uninvited.
Personal Shopper is a mesmerizing, dream-like supernatural erotic thriller the likes of which we haven’t seen before. I can’t wait to watch it again.