Personal Shopper: Mysterious Thriller from Olivier (Clouds of Sils Maria) Assayas, Starring Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is tormented by a strange and mysterious spirit in Personal Shopper, which will be released March 10.

The film divided critics and audiences, when it world premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Fest.  At the press screening I attended, it was booed by some critics who were frustrated by the film’s enigmatic nature and repetitious sounds.

Our grade: B- (** out of *****)

However, the next night at its official premiere to a general public, reportedly, the film received a standing ovation.

“I’m a personal shopper,” Stewart says, but, clearly she reresents much more than her occupation.” 

“It’s been 95 days,” she says, referring to the time since her twin brother’s death. “We made this oath. Whoever died first would send the other a sign.”

The trailer reveals a possible spoiler as Stewart walks in on one character who has been brutally murdered.

“I’m lost,” she says, apparently haunted by the presence of her brother. “I can’t tell whether or not I’m going crazy.”

Personal Shopper reunites Stewart with Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas, a film that had earned her a Cesar Award.

In its tone, Personal Shopper is a post-modern ghost story, grounded in mysterious sounds and signals that are never fully explained.

By day, American in Paris Maureen (well played by Kristen Stewart) works as a personal shopper, motor-biking around the city buying up deluxe couture for her jet-setting celebrity clients.

But by night, she is a totally different person, attempting to channel the spirits of the dead, and specifically hoping to make contact with her recently deceased twin brother.

When Maureen begins receiving a series of chilling, increasingly sinister text messages, it seems she may have made contact. But it is not clear with whom? And what do they want?

Be warned: I didn’t count, but there are over two dozen text messages, which are getting close ups when projected on the big screen.

By turn seductive, mind-scrambling, and frustrating mystery, Personal Shopper is stronger in tone and visual imagery than in narrative or characterization.

That said, it provides yet another riveting showcase for Stewart, one of this generation’s most adventurous and fearless actresses.

Personal Shopper is dominated by Stewart; there are not many characters and those that exist make brief, largely uninteresting appearances.

I am mixed in my response to the film, which is not one of Assayas strong features, and at least one or two notches below Clouds of Sils Maria, which I admired.