Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper ★★★½

[68]

Head over heals for about 40 minutes; perfect setup, fantastic sound and set design—nothing like an old, loud, creepy house to bring out the terror, each step on the hollow wooden floors punctuating with an echo that reverberates in your spine. I'm normally in the camp that doesn't care for movies where supernatural elements take on tangible forms, but I didn't even mind it here as it was nebulous enough to maintain a necessary mystique. Things derail a bit when Maureen (Stewart) receives her first anonymous text message; the entire texting schematic lasts for way too long, and there's a solid chunk of runtime dedicated to staring at an iPhone screen. The effect is used so supremely at times e.g. the sudden rush of texts once airplane mode is turned off, or the slew that comes rushing in as she creeps towards a closed door (furtively capturing the oft-eluded uncertainty of text message communication), but also feels a little bloated overall -- there's quite a lot of time devoted to the phone itself, and while it often works towards building trepidation, it's far from flawless. Perhaps the best usage, though, are the existential tines like, "Do you want to be someone else?" which silently outlines Maureen's entrapment in two separate-but-related camps re: her employer and her dead brother. In each case, it seems she longs for what she can't have: she mocks the haute celebrity lifestyle but secretly tries on their extravagant clothes, not too dissimilar from the manner in which she selfishly refuses to accept her brother's passing while envying his indefinite freedom. Plenty of striking moments therein, and that final knock is something close to bone-chilling (with an appropriate amount of misdirection); can't help but feel like it missed being "outstanding" by just a few pegs. Stewart is great, though, and while her "thumb acting" has been getting an awful lot of attention, she's most effective when on the verge of tears, exuding a harrowing, melancholic momentum that's truly worthy of praise.

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