899 Personal Shopper

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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FrauBlucher
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899 Personal Shopper

#1 Post by FrauBlucher » Tue May 17, 2016 6:27 pm

Personal Shopper

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With this intimate supernatural drama, the celebrated French filmmaker Olivier Assayas conjures a melancholy ghost story set in the world of haute couture. Starring Kristen Stewart, whose performance in Assayas's Clouds of Sils Maria made her the first American actor to win a César Award, this evocative character study tells the story of a young American fashion assistant and spiritual medium who is living in Paris and searching for signs of an afterlife following the sudden death of her twin brother. A stirring depiction of grief in the form of a psychological thriller, Personal Shopper—which won Assayas the best director award at Cannes—is a chilling meditation on modern modes of communication and the way we mourn those we love.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

• 2K digital master, supervised by director of photography Yorick Le Saux and approved by director Olivier Assayas, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with Assayas
• 2016 festival press conference featuring members of the film's cast and crew, including actor Kristen Stewart
• PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny

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Trees
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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#2 Post by Trees » Thu May 26, 2016 1:36 pm

Oh, brother. #-o :roll: Looks bad.

I got suckered into watching Clouds of Sils Maria, only to be served up a luke-warm turkey for a final act. I'm not getting suckered again.

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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu May 26, 2016 2:26 pm

Gosh, I have to agree with Trees on that one. Looks dreadful.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#4 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:19 am

I didn't care for Clouds of Sils Maria much, nor did I care for Kristen Stewart's work in it. I certainly see what people may have gotten out of that film and I respect it, but having seen Personal Shopper I feel like now I'm being downright gaslit. This is one of the stupidest films I've ever seen such a positive early consensus about, with another widely praised performance that has me completely baffled as to what I'm missing. Feels like 3 or 4 unfinished screenplays mashed into one - Assayas obviously knows what he's doing, is executing his vision exactly as he wants to, but I just wonder why in the hell he thinks this is one worth committing to celluloid. Will surely want to discuss it plenty more when more people here have seen it but I think I am just so far away from whatever would lead someone to heap praise on it that I might just lay on the floor and do that Three Stooges spin on my own axis instead of trying to bang my head against such an arduous task.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#5 Post by Black Hat » Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:42 pm

While I liked Clouds of Sils Maria - a lot more initially than on rewatch, I'm completely with you on being astonished on how much critics have liked Personal Shopper as like you I thought it was idiotic. For starters I could not believe how much of the film is literally KStew reading and writing texts. At times I felt like I was watch a bad SNL Digital Short The fascination both from conversations with critics and the presser revolves around how the film is a 'smart' commentary on how we're interconnected, constantly logged in i.e, modernity in the same vein as Her. I suppose this is true, but I felt they way this was depicted was at such a basic surface level that there wasn't much 'commentary' let alone 'intelligent' insight.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#6 Post by jbeall » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:18 pm

Perusing my usual Internet sites and came across this review of Personal Shopper. I'll wind up watching it b/c I've liked all of Assayas's work so far (yes, even Clouds...), but this certainly appears to be one of those films that divides opinion.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#7 Post by Oedipax » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:31 pm

It's certainly not an uninteresting film, and parts of it are as hypnotic and fresh as anything Assayas has ever done. The ending (or series of endings, really) is the weak point for me. The film just... keeps... going... long after I was ready to wrap things up. The very last section feels so out of place that it must be part of a larger thematic design that I completely missed - it's baffling. Otherwise, the CGI ghost work isn't necessarily poorly done, but it does strike me as an unfruitful addition to Assayas' cinema, at any rate. I did really like the long texting sequence on the train from Paris to London and back - it allows Assayas to do what, in my opinion, he's best at - filming the sleek and empty surfaces of capitalist modernity. In fact, about the ending,
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Assayas simply could have cut to black following the 'ghost' making its way out of the luxury apartment building in Paris through its automated doors - now that is a powerful image full of all kinds of meaning, seeing these empty spaces with an invisible force moving through them. Instead the movie keeps going in order to give us - what, closure about Kristen Stewart and her brother's relationship? Not a knock on anyone involved, but it's not like I was really invested in that. Why the film then continues on to Morocco, I have no idea.
Last edited by Oedipax on Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#8 Post by zedz » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:01 pm

In my understanding, that final sequence isn't about closure at all, but quite the opposite. I think it's a deliberate upending of the conventional notion that spirits are knowable and neatly dovetail their activities with mortal priorities. I think that closing scene is paired with the long texting sequence in the middle of the film, but the communication is here much more fragmented, ambiguous and deceptive. Maureen doesn't even comprehend the terms of engagement with the spirit. We don't even know who or what it might be (don't forget that she and we have been faked out about the identity of a spirit already in the film). I feel like the main function of that final sequence is to jolt us out of genre and disrupt any illusion of narrative closure that we felt like we'd attained.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#9 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:58 pm

Limited edition Mondo poster for sale tomorrow:

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#10 Post by All the Best People » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:04 am

For me, the ending is about:
SpoilerShow
showing us that it is Maureen's own irresolution and inability to move past her mourning is what has conjured the ghosts' presence in her life. "Is it me?" she asks (I'm likely paraphrasing), and she receives a positive answer. This is actually a reversal of the genre trope wherein a ghost or spirit haunts the living due to some unresolved issue related to the person's death, but here we learn that Maureen's "gifts" as a medium come from her own lack of closure and not necessarily that of the deceased.
I seem to have like the film rather more than other contributors above; the texting sequences worked very well for me, and the unknown, unseen interlocutor is a nice thematic resonance with messages from beyond the grave, as well as Maureen's frequently ghostly relationship with her boss. There certainly is something odd in the tone, and at first I thought the Kristen Stewart authenticity thing (of which I've become a fan) clashed with the supernatural elements, but those aspects came together for me; if anything, it's Lars Eidinger who feels like he's visiting from some other movie. It's by no means a masterpiece, but I found this an entertaining watch and it's sat well in my memory since seeing it.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#11 Post by EvaShogoki1 » Tue May 02, 2017 4:35 pm

Black Hat wrote:While I liked Clouds of Sils Maria - a lot more initially than on rewatch, I'm completely with you on being astonished on how much critics have liked Personal Shopper as like you I thought it was idiotic. For starters I could not believe how much of the film is literally KStew reading and writing texts. At times I felt like I was watch a bad SNL Digital Short The fascination both from conversations with critics and the presser revolves around how the film is a 'smart' commentary on how we're interconnected, constantly logged in i.e, modernity in the same vein as Her. I suppose this is true, but I felt they way this was depicted was at such a basic surface level that there wasn't much 'commentary' let alone 'intelligent' insight.
I had a conversation with a friend about this recently. I can certainly see why somebody wouldn't enjoy the prolonged use of iMessage conversation in the film but to me, it was more important how Assayas used it. Contrast to many directors, he doesn't appear to glamorise it; in fact, it's all very boring, tedious, drawn out and, importantly, rarely goes anywhere. That's also reflected with the Skype conversations between the MC and her boyfriend, which often finish not with a 'goodbye' but simply by closing the laptop.

Personally, I don't know if I'd call it smart as much as I'd call it completely ordinary. Most directors eschew technology - which is a bit odd when you think about it - or make it look like awkward product placement. Assayas does neither and it's why I wouldn't exactly call it 'smart' as much as sensible.

Also, I thought the movie was okay. I didn't love it but found it to be a lot better than the The Clouds of Sils Maria.

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Re: Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

#12 Post by Lost Highway » Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:52 pm

Only caught up with the film last evening and I loved it. What surprised me was how well Personal Shopper works as a ghost story and how unlike many revered art house auteurs, Assayas didn't turn up his nose at certain genre trappings. The reveal towards the end is pure MR James in it's disturbance of the mundane and actually made the hair at the back of my neck stand up. Didn't have a problem with the texting scenes, I thought they were tense and created a sense of creeping unease. Stewart anchors the film with another strong performance, I loved the atmosphere and the way the film dealt with specifics of her job. This will end up in my top five of the year if not higher.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#13 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:36 pm


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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#14 Post by Ribs » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:39 pm

Bummed to not even see a "More!" on that paltry list. Clouds ended up having a pretty wonderful set of interviews so this could end up being an alright package but it certainly doesn't look like very much.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#15 Post by The Narrator Returns » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:59 pm

Shame they couldn't get Stewart to contribute to this or Certain Women, her thoughts on the Clouds of Sils Maria release were really illuminating.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#16 Post by All the Best People » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:10 am

Ribs wrote:Bummed to not even see a "More!" on that paltry list. Clouds ended up having a pretty wonderful set of interviews so this could end up being an alright package but it certainly doesn't look like very much.
Agreed. Now, I'm sure the Assayas interview is great -- one of the pleasures of his movies is reading/watching him be interviewed about them -- but the guy did a full press tour (I even went and saw him and Kristen Stewart do a Q&A with Elvis Mitchell), so what are the odds anything new will be in this interview? It's an intriguingly enigmatic movie that has stuck in my head to a surprising degree over the past months, but I don't see myself picking up this release.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#17 Post by Cameron Swift » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:05 am

Just watched this and I'm still trying to make up my mind on it. The ambiguous supernatural elements worked for me, but I agree with the arguments surrounding the extended text message scene. At first, it was genuinely tense and intriguing, and then at some point I realised that I'd been watching an uninteresting text conversation go on for ten minutes.

Strangely though, that scene on the train (unwittingly? intentionally?) is reminiscent of Scream which I recently rewatched. The protagonist has a conversation with an unseen, somewhat omniscient presence, though here the medium has been updated to modern technology so that the disembodied voice now loses even that aspect. Both strangers claim to be able to see their prey and announce that they are in close proximity (in the older movie, the killer is at the front door, here; the texter is only joking, but later does show up outside Maureen's door) And somewhat bizarrely, both female characters state that they're not fans of horror movies as it's always some woman running away from a killer!

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#18 Post by mteller » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:30 pm


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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:03 am

Didn't hate this, but didn't find it particularly engaging either. I guessed the solution to the "texter mystery" quite early -- and did not find the protagonist particularly interesting (or believable). Struck me as pretty abstract. In terms of ghost stories, I much preferred Ghost Story (despite any imperfections it may have had). Also not much local color (until the finale).

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#20 Post by david hare » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:17 am

You're too kind Michael, I loathed it. Along with la Blanchett's totally overwrought, exteriorized twitching, gestural over modulated performance as Carole, Stewart's overwrought, fidgeting, twitchy breath halting, mannerisms take really vulgarly exterior look-at-me acting to a new level of self indulgence. It was the most alienating performance Ive watched this year. Assayas is simply just past it these days. I think I hated Shopper even more than Sils Maria, but they are both unspeakable.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#21 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:53 am

Well, I did hate this at a few points -- like when Stewart's character did spectacularly boneheaded things (very reminiscent of Grade Z horror films)... I didn't primarily blame Stewart herself for her unappealing character.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#22 Post by david hare » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:49 pm

Nor do I (she obviously responds with skill to a nuanced director like Kelly Reichardt). But Assayas is obviously so infatuated he encourages every unattractive aspect of her personality and mannerisms and amplifies them for what he probably considers an engaging performance. It's like Gerwig in fucking Frances Ha, I kept wanting to strangle her. One man's poisson etc.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#23 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:16 pm

A plot question...
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I assume that person at the kitchen window -- in the last scene in France --
was supposed to be her brother -- but he looked much older than her (insofar as I could see). And why the smashing of glasses as a "sign"?

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#24 Post by All the Best People » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:28 pm

Plot responses:
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Yes, I believe that was the brother. I think the "sign" was simply that something fell when no one corporal was around to knock it over.

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Re: 899 Personal Shopper

#25 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:24 pm

AtBP -- Thanks

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