Kristen Stewart’s character has an interesting relationship with the camera in Personal Shopper. She’s at one point subdued, reserved, the camera lingering on the mundanity of her movements and watching as she slides into the shadows while still in plain sight. She’s at one point anxious, terrified to her core, not only because of the supernatural happenings around her but also because of what sees in herself. She’s at one point naked, physically and emotionally, grappling with the past and feeling immense guilt about her future. It’s an excellent performance and a fascinating illustration of grief, and Stewart is thoroughly able to handle everything she is asked to do.
The amount of threads she is asked to juggle, however, is the reason there are flaws in the film’s tapestry. Is it a ghost story? Is it a murder mystery? Is it a Hitchcockian suspense thriller? Is it a complex exploration of the mourning process? It certainly attempts to be all of these, but it suffers an unfortunate fate as a result: it dilutes itself across the multiple threads and sacrifices sustained brilliance for flashes of brilliance. The ghost story conjures up some unsettling imagery, the suspense thriller delivers a bone-chilling texting scene near the end of the film (not to be confused with the 20-minute sequence earlier in the film), and the exploration of mourning reaches some powerful highs. Ultimately, Stewart is the glue holding the shaky script together, but I definitely do applaud Assayas for his approach and ideas. At times, the film is evocative like no other, its dreamlike quality bringing grief to the forefront and asking intriguing, but possibly unanswerable, questions. Can we move on from loss? Can we live our lives? Is that a fucking ghost in my bedroom?
-Kristen Stewart Q&A afterward. She was very passionate about the film, and she was very interesting to listen to.