I was a little skeptical about Personal Shopper’s premise because I generally don’t enjoy horror movies. I’m a very jumpy person so I hate cheap scares. Personal Shopper doesn’t do that to you by the way. There are some scares, but they aren’t done without taste. Anyway, despite my dislike for the usual horror ficks, I do love thrillers and especially psycho-thrillers! So I’m always a little stuck when the genre falls somewhere in between horror and thriller. So for example: a film with ghosts in it. It’s not exactly horror, but it has ghosts in it.
It really helps me to be less uncomfortable when the appearance of the ghosts are unrealistic. To name another film with ghosts in it, I enjoyed Crimson Peak because everything in the film was beautiful. Its “unrealistic ghosts” were so pretty too (in a gothic way). So Personal Shopper didn’t scare me too much because the ghosts in this film appeared as flashes of light. Except for one scene when the light morphed into a figure with a face… but it still looked fake so it’s all good!
The bottom line: Personal Shopper did not give me any nightmares after. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m gonna dive into my review, no spoilers!
About the Film:
In the film, Maureen (played by Kristen Stewart) constantly tries to communicate with the ghost of her brother, and she also behaves like a ghost as a personal shopper for her boss, Kyra (played by Nora von Waldstätten). Like an invisible being, Maureen moves from place to place and gets the errands done without having to interact with her boss in person. She is also a very lonely character and the people she cares for are mostly far away.
I have this strange love for Kristen Stewart. I find myself stalking after all the movies she’s recently starred in. Actually, if she didn’t star in Personal Shopper I probably wouldn’t have watched it. Honest! I’ll admit that there isn’t much variation between her performances… seems as though she’s playing a version of herself across all these films. But I think that’s what I like about her the most, because it makes her character very realistic. She always looks like she is deep in thought regardless of whether she’s saying a line or not, and whenever she says something, I get this feeling that her character really meant to say something else. She’s effortlessly complex. Hence easily, because of her performance – which is a major plus since the camera is nearly always on her – I was very satisfied with Personal Shopper.
One mistake I did make was to watch this at night, after a really rough day at work. Because this movie is pretty slow. While art cinema films are always more meaningful, I still struggle because they don’t really try to keep my attention. Personal Shopper is not too hard to follow but I would refrain from recommending this movie to 90% of the people I know who wouldn’t understand the point of this. What the movie does do, is to make the audience ask questions, both during and after the movie. And if you’re sleepy (like I was), or if you don’t usually watch a movie to learn something different – you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the themes this film presents to you while you watch it.
If I didn’t make the effort to write down my thoughts on the film, I know I would have easily forgotten about this movie. It was only after I read other reviews and thought about the film that I started appreciating it more than I did last night. But I don’t know many people who actually reflect on a movie they’ve just seen, and on normal days I’m not one to force a reflection out of a movie experience.
So Personal Shopper! Was it a good film? Yes. It’s not cringey, it’s generally unpredictable, its characters are complex and there is definitely more to the film than its face value. I would watch it again if someone is really keen to watch it with me. I would not dare to recommend this to most of the people I know (they will hate me!). If you have the patience for art cinema, or if you’re intending to start expanding your watch-list to include more avant-garde film, I think you would find Personal Shopper a really intriguing experience.
Would I watch it again?
Probably not. Unless my friend really really wants to see it and refuses to watch it alone.
Would I recommend it to a friend?
No, unless I know for sure they like strange films.
Can I watch it with my family and friends?
Friends – maybe. Family – I don’t think so. There are non-sexual nude scenes of Maureen (during a visit to the doctor, and another while she is trying on some clothes). These nudes scenes are fine in my opinion, it’s the masturbation scene that people might not want their kids to be watching. And I wouldn’t want to sit through a scene like that with any of my friends, even if it only lasts a few seconds. (But that being said, I do think that scene is very, very important. I wouldn’t want it to be cut out just so that it would allow more kids into the cinema.)