Saturday, July 29, 2017

[Review] Personal Shopper

Kristen Stewart gives a mesmerizing performance in Personal Shopper, an unorthodox ghost story that consistently intrigues and perplexes.

Maureen (Stewart) works as a personal shopper in Paris. When she gets free time, she hangs out in a big, dusty, creaky house by herself. Why? To attempt to contact her twin brother, who died there.

This isn't the usual supernatural horror film, though. It's more of a slow-burning psychological drama, kind of reminiscent of a really good Irish flick from 2009 called The Eclipse (not to be confused with Twilight: Eclipse of course). There are significant gaps between the scares, but when the scares do come, they're extremely effective. The jolting moments are there, but the film mostly relies on building a dark and eerie atmosphere. And instead of ramping up the tension with music, the film often dwells in silence, which creates an uneasiness as every little noise is amplified. Is it something from beyond? Or just the rickety old house cracking in the wind? These scenes are truly chilling.

Around the midway point, the story takes an even stranger turn as Maureen begins receiving creepy, voyeuristic text messages from an Unknown number. The person (or whatever) on the other end is never quite who you think it is, and that's when the film goes into full mystery and suspense mode. Kristen Stewart is terrific throughout, essentially occupying every scene with a sense of determination, confusion, and anxiety. It's impressively convincing. She genuinely seems like a real person searching for a spirit that may or may not be real.

Personal Shopper keeps you unbalanced. What's in the mind and what isn't? Grief, trauma, delusion, and paranormal activity all seem to be at work. It's the type of film that will make you think, while coming up with your own theories about it, which means it's worth watching more than once. The end is unsettling and ambiguous, and given the nature of the film, you wouldn't expect anything else.

* 8.5/10 *

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