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Personal Shopper

9/10

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Hammou Graïa, Nora Von Waldstätten, Benjamin Biolay, Audrey Bonnet, Pascal Rambert.

Director: Olivier Assayas

Stewart brings genuine depth, conviction and, above all, keeps you watching, playing a young American living in Paris and making her living as the eponymous personal shopper for an arrogant celebrity. But her life is driven by a genuine belief that she is a medium and able to communicate with the dead, most notably with her recently deceased twin brother Lewis…

(Impressively, too, Stewart proves to be a nifty scooter rider through the streets of the French capital).

The actress, back with director Assayas with whom she had worked in 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria, proves be a considerable performer able to erase memories of her by-numbers stardom in the 'Twilight' films with a performance that dominates a storyline that, while gripping as it segues between Stewart’s supernatural haunting by eerie mists (“There is a presence”, she whispers) and, in scarier contemporary mode, via a series of threatening texts (“I know you and you know me” and “I want you and I will have you”...) sent to her mobile phone and causing her to state ”I feel his presence. He is here…”.

To his credit co-scenarist Assayas and Stewart succeed in creating a credible and increasingly effective atmosphere of ghostly suspense but in the final analysis, while the film is eminently watchable and showcases a star-confirming performance, Assayas (as screenwriter and director) ultimately fails to resolve his clever but overlong build-up.

But, as Peter Greenaway is quoted as saying ““I really, sincerely believe that one should trust the work, and not the author”. That said, there is much to admire and enjoy in Personal Shopper: it’s a film that I would genuinely have been happy to pay to see.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 19 Mar 2017