PERSONAL SHOPPER (REVIEW)
Dir. Olivier Assayas
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
If there is one thing that is clear in the horror genre is that there is no formula for terror. Repeat the same format and the scares run thin, try something different and critics are divided yet everyone can agree that fear and horror come in all shapes and sizes. This is no truer than Olivier Assayas’ PERSONAL SHOPPER.
Maurenn Cartright (Kristen Stewart) is a personal shopper for a famous celebrity, Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten) who spends her life in the social circles rather than the comfort of her own home. Despite the lonely lifestyle, Maureen spends her time balanced between her job and her purpose, that of a medium. After the death of her brother mere months earlier, she stays in Paris in search of a sign, something he promised he’d send from the other side when he was gone and something she will not give up on despite the persuasion from those around her.
Maureen’s balance of life is put into chaos when a mysterious contact begins to text her and pushes her to indulge in a lifestyle she would usually avoid. This indulgence doesn’t end well and it’s in the film’s grip of reality that the story grabs you by the edge of your seat in anticipation of what will unravel.
Despite the films European style, from pace to pallet, PERSONAL SHOPPER is a film that doesn’t shy from the supernatural and could have easily appeased critics by remaining abstruse but instead flourishes in having its feet, and heart, in both reality and the other side. Like a stunning model, PERSONAL SHOPPER wears it’s influences in Giallo and Hitchcock together with Fellini and Hollywood glamour well but never tries to emulate its forerunners.
PERSONAL SHOPPER will not appeal to all but regardless of its slow pace, heavy characters and European culture, it is without doubt one of the most original horror films of the year. Imagine the tone of ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE mixed with the story telling of Guillermo Del Toro, Assayas’ first foray into horror, albeit being a secondary motive, is entrancing and gripping to watch all with an amazingly grounded central performance. Kristen Stewart rids any doubt on her acting ability that has hounded her career by critics and instead feels more natural in a more independent and indulgent role. Dark, brooding and hypnotic, PERSONAL SHOPPER is for horror fans who like a subtle take on the supernatural without taking away the horror. What’s more, the film leaves with a spine chilling closure that really does strike fear into those brave enough to watch.