Personal Shopper : Kristen Stewart reunites with Director Olivier Assayas to lead a modern supernatural drama. Personal shopper Maureen (Stewart) continues to grieve for her recently deceased twin brother. Using her abilities as a medium to attempt communication with his spirit, Maureen begins to receive cryptic text messages from a mystery sender.
A Modern Villain: There is room to go wrong when utilizing modern technology in film. Displaying a screen on a screen can often make for an awkward viewing experience. However, Olivier Assayas is able to combine technology and horror in a remarkably fresh way. Tapping into the anxieties of the internet age, Assayas draws out a sense of terror that anyone with a smartphone can realistically imagine. There is no such thing as privacy when our personal data has never been so easily accessible; something the character of Maureen quickly discovers. Seeing three quivering dots at the bottom of a messaging app interface has the power to turn the stomach. It is this new form of fear that ultimately allows Personal Shopper to stand out in the busy thriller genre. Technology is Kristen Stewart’s co-star, and it makes for a fantastic antagonist.
Stewart Shines: From the depths of franchise filmmaking and hit-and-miss one-offs, Kristen Stewart has ascended once more. Stewart’s recent return to independent cinema has served her well; highlighting her ability to grapple realistic, emotional roles with maturity. While her last film with Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria , saw her take a backseat to the prowess of Juliette Binoche, her subtle performance still made waves among critics and awards juries alike. Personal Shopper sees Stewart’s talents pushed even further under Assayas’ direction. Her portrayal of Maureen is carefully crafted. As tensions mount, the character of Maureen comes undone. Stewart allows Maureen to shrink inwards as these moments pan out, looking gaunt and troubled. It is a performance that will define her career. Assayas and Stewart appear to be a creative match; their combined abilities producing chilling drama.
Illusion Shattered: In a film that so convincingly portrays the paranormal through our relationships with technology and modern conventions – things we sometimes cannot touch or experience in the real world – the inclusion of a literal ghost somewhat shatters the illusion. As she explores an old house, Stewart comes face to face with a genuine paranormal spirit. It regurgitates its ectoplasm and leaves her cowering on the floor. The ghost has clearly been computer generated in post-production and its quality is frankly laughable. A scene that features fine acting from Stewart is overthrown by the appearance of this green-coloured ghoul. It’s a small flaw, but a regretfully memorable one.