Never have I seen a ghost story told like Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper. The eerie way the cinematography is done, the unconventional storytelling, and the tone overall is a critical gift to us all.
While Maureen, (Kristen Stewart) only speaks English, the film is authentically French. Nearly the whole movie was filmed there. The small little pieces of French culture help remind you where you are while not being too overt about it. An example, would be the the French Public Transit notification noise played on the over-com at train stations. This is a subtle detail that anyone who has visited Paris would appreciate.
The whole movie seems almost like, it isn’t even a ghost story at all. Which is one of the film’s greatest strengths. It blends genre conventions together to create a unique experience. The inclusion of the phone as the way that Maureen communicates with the dead elevates this film in many ways from other ghost stories. It makes communication much more direct and less ambiguous. This makes it so Personal Shopper explore other aspects of talking to the dead while also exploring Maureen’s inner psyche and characterization.
After proving herself with an extensive portfolio of work post-Twilight, it is safe to say that Kristen Stewart is a great actress. She owns every scene in this movie and I can’t think of a better character to play the lead. Everyone else does alright but they are never the focus, this is Kristen Stewart’s movie, no one else’s.
Personal Shopper leaves you with that feeling of ambiguity that makes you happy, that makes you want to watch it again, and that makes you want to write about what you just saw. And that is the best kind of movie.