Olivier Assayas is a filmmaker whose work has passed me by until last year when I actually sat down and watched Clouds of Sils Maria. It was interesting to see a film with fresh cinematography and interpersonal characters. Incidentally, Kristen Stewart plays a character who is an assistant to a famous actress and lives in her shadow. In this film Stewart plays the role of a “personal shopper” for a celebrity who cannot go out and shop because of her fame; once again Stewart plays an assistant in the shadow of someone more important than her. Stewart proves to be Assayas’ muse in this film. The film is not always perfect or coherent but there’s no denying that Stewart’s acting ability has been grossly underrated because of some of her previous film choices.
The film follows Maureen who shops for a celebrity named Kyra. Kyra forbids Maureen from ever trying on her clothes. In the meantime Maureen is being haunted b a ghost (mostly through text messages). She initially thinks its her recently deceased twin brother but then starts to realize the haunting ghost may be something much more sinister. I found the camerawork and style of the film to be quite personal. Stewart is in every scene and the entire story is told in her presence. And this is a great thing because she is very fine in her role. She is lonely, fleeting, and very curious. Which is why she becomes so occupied by the ghost who keeps texting her. The ghost enables her to become rebellious and convinces her to do forbidden things (like trying on Kyra’s clothes without her knowledge).
We soon realize that there is danger afoot and the intensity of the presence of this mysterious ghost texter brings forth a wonderfully setup ominous atmosphere. It’s not always easy to figure out what will occur and if something will pop out at the screen at you. The film flirts with the idea of being a horror film and a psychological character study. Either way its fairly alluring to see Maureen in her day to day activities and how she reacts to each ghostly text she receives.
With that said, the film still can frustrate viewers with a slow build and a puzzling climax and payoff. I’m certain that Assayas’s desire was to keep the viewers guessing and for them to come up with their own reviews and explanations. Its a much more daring effort from Assayas and also from Kristen Stewart. She is detaching herself from her Twilight role by taking on more unique roles that show off her ability in a better way. The film may provoke a mixed response but I think its worth watching.