Olivier Assayas Personal Shopper is a story of grief masquerading as a ghost story, a film which is brazen and unconventional, detailing the exploits of Maureen, young American woman in Paris, who is struggling to move on from the death of her twin brother, Lewis, who was a spiritual medium. Working as a personal shopper for a high profile celebrity to pay the bills, Maureen is infatuated with reconnecting with her deceased brother one more time, emphatically believing this in an attempt to find some semblance of closure. To call Olivier Assayas' Personal Shopper a ghost story would be selling this film short, as the prolific french filmmaker has created a introspective and enigmatic experience which transcends the confines of mere ghost story, delivering a story about grief, perseverance, inadequacy, and spirituality. Personal Shopper is a film that routinely subverts perspective and reality, blurring the lines completely between the world itself and that seen through the eyes of our main protagonist, giving Assayas an adequate playing field to touch on a host of fascinating themes and ideas. At the center of this film is what I would describe as the high point of Kristen Stewart's acting career, as the actresses continues to completely transform from her days of delivering droll, mainstream performances. Maureen as a character is complex, beguiling, and detached, and Kristen Stewart plays the part to near perfection, delivering a complex and riveting performance that completely matches the complexity of themes and ideas which Assayas wishes to explore in his story. Assayas film never rejects spirituality or the idea of an afterlife, nor embraces it completely, being a film that is ambiguous in nature, understanding that the real meat of his story lies in the introspective analysis of a character who struggles to find her own sense of happiness and comfort after the death of her brother. The memory of Lewis haunts Maureen to her vary core, a character who is simply frozen in time, unable to move on or look forward, stuck in a perpetual state of grief. Keep in mind, much of the film is thankfully understated when it comes to these emotional complexities, with Personal Shopper exhibiting the importance of living to the fullest not in spite of but for the memory of those one loves. Personal Shopper is bold in that Assayas rejects typical structure and even logic in aspects of its story, often presenting nearly conflicting perspectives, which make it nearly impossible for the viewer to decipher whether the spiritual, ghost story aspect of the film is in fact real or simply in the head of Maureen, a character who is continuously rattled by grief and a sense of longing related to being unable to find herself after the death of someone she felt so close too. Assayas choice to remain ambiguous serves a larger purpose than deconstructing the idea of whether an afterlife of any sorts exists or not, showing not much interest in this debate, unwilling to be headstrong in either assertion, instead recognizing how faith and spirituality can be forces of healing, whether imaginary or not. A complex, unique, and quietly compelling story of grief and feelings of inadequacy , Olivier Assayas' Personal Shopper is story about the importance of finding freedom and liberty from one's own doubts and insecurities, a film that recognizes this can come from many different avenues, using a ghost story structure to deliver a unique, thoughtful experience.
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