PERSONAL SHOPPER (2017, Olivier Assayas)
An absolute stunner of a final scene can really go a long way. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling the direction this story was going, but the closing moments landed so well that I recalibrated the entire thing in my head. Taken as a whole, this is a fairly slow, arch, overly serious French movie (spoken almost entirely in English) that doesn’t necessarily take advantage of its premise in any of the obvious (or obviously engaging) ways. It’s only scary for a couple of isolated moments and the mystery is obvious (to all of us except Maureen, it seems). But as a means of meditating on the idea of liberty: whether it’s privacy, personal invasion (of space or property), geographical or occupational freedom, this film dances around the issues in new ways that grow increasingly absorbing as the running time creeps along.
Also, we’re entirely in Maureen’s world 100% of the way. Kristen Stewart is in every scene of the movie, and the second-billed actor is an iPhone 6s (which should be nominated for Best Supporting Mobile Device/Actress next year). Stewart shoulders the load quite well — proving once again she needs nothing else to really anchor a performance other than good material (maybe not even that, sometimes) and a director who gives her time to breathe. She got a lot of love for THE CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, but in that I thought she was overshadowed by the even-better Binoche — here, though, Assayas learned his lesson and made the celebrity Stewart’s character works for an afterthought as opposed to the on-screen partner. And she wears cool white high-tops.
One word of caution to creepy texters: turn off your “read” receipts!