A stressful psychological thriller set in the fashion capital of Paris, ‘Personal Shopper’ is a deliberately slow paced ghost story where Maureen (Kristen Stewart) attempts to contact her dead brother while juggling a job she hates and contemplating leaving Paris altogether but for a promise she made her brother before he died. Kristen Stewart absolutely steals the show with a subtle yet emotionally charged performance that brings a much needed realism and edge to this otherwise slow paced thriller.
The film tells the story of Maureen, a young, trendy American working as a Personal Shopper for arrogant French celebrity Kyra in the heart of Paris. Beyond the glitz and glam of buying expensive accessories and clothes for Kyra, Maureen is desperate to gain contact with her dead brother Lewis to find out if he died at peace or not. As she becomes increasingly desperate and is on the verge of giving up, something or someone begins contacting her. Although the pace is deliberately slow, with every cryptic message, bump in the night and sinister chill on the wind, its both believable and unnerving that there might be a spirit stalking her. A lot of this is down to Kristen Stewart’s acting which is just fantastic here and her subtle facial expressions and nuanced delivery of her lines, show what a great actress she is with this performance.
I questioned whether they’d be able to wrap the story up in a cohesive way though and, not to give anything away of course, they do perfectly in a way that feels both realistic and satisfying. The film itself isn’t necessarily scary but there are a few well done scenes that are particularly unnerving toward the first half of the film that do just enough to keep the tension at a high whilst also feeling like its not all for nothing. This is helped, of course, by some great lighting throughout.
Although I’m not a fan of scenes fading to black for several seconds before cutting to the next shot, I actually found it worked quite well here with particular attention on soaking each scene with stressful unpredictability only broken up by a few moments breathing room.
Overall, ‘Personal Shopper’ was certainly better than I expected it to be and although the slow paced film never feels like it drags, it might put off some people who don’t like slow burn thrillers. The acting is fantastic with Kristen Stewart in particular stealing the show with a subtle but powerful performance as Maureen. One of the dark horses from the month of March, ‘Personal Shopper’ is one of those films that flew under the radar but is absolutely worth its weight in gold.