Personal Shopper, B
Rated R, 105 minutes
The psychological thriller "Personal Shopper" is not about shopping, but a young lady who communicates with ghosts. The handsome, moody French-made independent film is compelling and superbly acted by "Twilight's" Stewart, who continues to surprise with some intriguing, low-budget film choices.
Maureen (Kristen Stewart), young American in Paris works as a personal shopper for a celebrity. She seems to have the ability to communicate with spirits, like her recently deceased twin brother Louis. Soon, she starts to receive ambiguous messages from an unknown source.
The darkly-shaded psychological drama "Personal Shopper" is an affecting character study that's grounded by a luminous turn from Stewart, who is slowly evolving into the next indie film queen, which would be as unexpected for the young actress who hit it big with teenage werewolves and vampires in "Twilight" (and unsurprisingly, the one with the most active career at the moment). Directed and written by Olivier Assayas, who directed Stewart to good effect in the 2014 drama "The Clouds of Sils Maria" (if you can upstage the lovely Juliette Binoche as Stewart did in that film, you've become a good actress).
"Personal Shopper" starts off sluggishly, but it picks up once Stewart's Maureen starts seeing unusual things, and she's unsure what's really happening to her . She captures her character's ambiguity and connection with her dead brother perfectly, with subtle and brave touches - Stewart is topless in several scenes and masturbates in another - brave choices for an A-list actress. Her final scene in which she is speaking with her brother is the film's most moving scene, and watch Stewart subtle, poignant facial expressions that give the scene some heft.
Director and writer Assayas also has some important statements to make about spirituality, afterlife and spirits, ultimately leaving it to the audience to decipher what all the communication is really about. It's about a lonely women who must let go of her past so she can be at peace with moving forward, a difficulty we all face at one point or another.
"Personal Shopper" isn't perfect, its slow first 20 minutes and an unnecessary subplot in the final act don't help it much, but it's a dark, insightful character study that combines both the afterlife and some chills, with a career-best performance from Stewart, who'll be one to watch in coming years.