PERSONAL SHOPPER is a French supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by Olivier Assayas, the filmmaker behind the critically acclaimed SOMETHING IN THE AIR and CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA. Like the latter film, PERSONAL SHOPPER stars Kristen Stewart and is a vehicle for one of the top performances of the young actress’s already lengthy career.
In the film, Stewart shines as Maureen, an American living in Paris and working as a personal shopper for a celebrity all the while trying to communicate with the spirit of her recently deceased twin brother. When she begins receiving mysterious text messages from an unknown number, Maureen starts to explore her deepest fears and her crisis of identity by dressing in the clothes of her employer and secretly sleeping in her apartment while she’s out of town. If it isn’t forbidden, it isn’t worth doing.
PERSONAL SHOPPER is a ghost film through and through, but not in the traditional sense. on the right hand, Assayas’s film serves as a horror story about searching for ghosts and proof of an afterlife (one that’s quite scary at times), and on the left, in what’s sure to be divisive among fans of horror, it’s a quite character study about learning to let go of everything that’s haunting you. Assayas strikes a beautiful balance between the two approaches, crafting a wholly unique film that stands on its own in a crowded subgenre.
While Assaya’s assured direction and ability to seamlessly maneuver through several genres is admirable, PERSONAL SHOPPER truly belongs to Kristen Stewart. Stewart carries every frame of this film by matching the mysterious and melancholic tone with her masterfully subtle performance – the best of her career thus far. In a decade that’s given us several brilliant performances by actresses in the horror genre, Stewart’s turn as both the haunter and the haunted sticks out as one of the best.
PERSONAL SHOPPER is not a film that will suit everyone’s taste. Save for two or three intense and frightening scenes, this is a quiet, slow movie that defies the viewer’s expectations of the genre. Those in search of a unique, genre-blending slowburn, however, may find PERSONAL SHOPPER to be deeply haunting and unforgettable, just as I did. It’s a near masterpiece.
PERSONAL SHOPPER will be released in theaters on March 10, 2017 from IFC Films