Self Discovery in PERSONAL SHOPPER
Kristen Stewart (Maureen) was filled by dread and fear as she heard the footsteps toward her apartment door. She carried on a conversation with a mysterious texter on her phone without the slightest idea of his or her identity. The texts were threatening and drawing her at the same time. Whoever the texter, was now behind her door. Then fear eventually turned to curiosity, she looked through the peephole; no one was there. As she looks down the floor, she sees a white envelope slipped under her door. She opens it and finds a Crowne Plaza hotel key card.
Instead of her usual Lacoste shirt, she feels daring. Remembering what she texted back, wanting what was forbidden, she wears her client’s designer black ‘dress’. It was more a collection of black straps than an actual dress, exposing a lot of the skin, most especially her breasts and nipples. An overcoat goes on top to cover her body and scoots away in her Peugeot scooter. As soon as she enters the room she receives a text ‘Send me a Picture’. She goes to the full-length mirror, takes off the overcoat and takes a picture of herself. The texter replies, ‘I prefer you like this.’ She takes the covers off the bed, lies in it, caresses her breasts through the dress and touches herself.
PERSONAL SHOPPER starring Kristen Stewart and directed by Olivier Assayas is just one of many enticing movies in the 22nd French Film Festival running from June 9-17, 2017 at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas and the Bonifacio High Street Cinemas. The fest includes Pinoy films NAKAW, MA’ROSA & ON THE JOB on June 12 at Greenbelt.
Having won Cannes Best Director for Olivier Assayas, PERSONAL SHOPPER is one of the most anticipated screenings in the fest. Pinoy fans can watch it for the reasonable fee of only P100.
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Kristen Stewart fans will find a more sophisticated, if not a sexier version of the TWILIGHT star. The journey of self discovery is not easy to visualize much less portray. This is one role where Stewart has shown her evolution as an actress from her earlier roles. Especially since being a ‘personal shopper’ can be degrading at times. The job is a cross between a stylist, personal assistant and errand girl to a fashion icon Kyra Gellman played by Nora von Waldstätten.
Stewart in real life as a Hollywood star supposedly has armies of personal shoppers. Kristen was also cast in LIZZIE to be released later this year, set in 1892 based on the real life of Lizzie Borden (played by Chloe Sevigny) accused of murdering her own parents with an axe. Stewart also has Sci-Fi flick UNDERWATER which will be released in 2018.
An interesting choice by writer/ director Assayas is to not have Stewart speak a word of French (except for bonjour), which may be surprising since it is set in the heart of Paris. This gives an impression of arrogance because her role in Maureen was supposed to have lived there for at least 2 years. Everyone from jewelers to designers would speak English to her while everyone else spoke French, except for other American characters.
This gave the impression the Americans had this small world or club amongst themselves. And perhaps also allow other foreigners, viewers to not be so intimidated with their ignorance or weakness in French, when visiting the City of Lights. In the Philippines, it’s a given that tourists can easily survive with English. There are expats who’ve lived here for decades without learning Filipino because they can get away with it.
PERSONAL SHOPPER’s story begins with Maureen having to deal with the death of her twin brother Lewis. The two are bonded together in many ways, one of which is their ability to sense ‘spirits’. As kids they make a pact to contact the other, give a sign from the after life if one of them passes away. So there’s a very strong element of mysticism in the movie. Neither of them were religious or brought up in a particular faith so, even Maureen as an adult was still unsure of the existence of an afterlife. She’s unsure of what she sees sometimes as spirits or souls or whatever beings.
That’s where the brilliance of Olivier Assayas comes in. He takes us on that journey of self discovery of finding out what Maureen comes to believe about the afterlife and even herself. The movie touches on a lot of things like fine art, fashion and psychics without losing the humanity in the story. In this sense, it is totally different from a Hollywood film where you can pigeonhole them into genres, such as horror, sexual thriller or drama. It has all of that in an unlikely mix much like real life in other words it’s very French.
The trio of Kristen Stewart, Nora Von Waldstatten and Lars Eidinger has worked with Olivier Assayas in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA in 2014. The lead star of that critically acclaimed film is Juliet Binoche. For PERSONAL SHOPPER, Nora is best cast in the role of Kyra Gellman (pronounced Keera), a wealthy fashion icon, who on occasion can be a bitchy boss. Maureen would occasionally Google Kyra’s pictures so she could see the clothes she picked up for her high profile boss. Designer Karl Lagerfeld has a cameo as Kyra’s pal in a fashion event.
Nora does have that convincing aristocratic air. In real life she has Austrian noble blood as descendant of Baroness Von Waldstatten who was the influential patroness of Mozart.
Enigmatic character Ingo is played by German actor Lars Eidinger. He is a respected and admired theater and TV actor with a long list of credits to his name. To this end he was recently made a jury member of the 66th International Berlin Film Fest. He is also an established musician and DJ. He has scored several films and worked as music producer of other artists as well. His wife Ulrike Eidinger happens to be a famous opera singer.
All in all we should take advantage of the opportunity to watch PERSONAL SHOPPER and many other impressive movies in the French film festival. These are gems we would not be able to see otherwise.
For the film line up and screening schedule visit:
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