Friday, November 4, 2016

Movie Review: "Shopgirl" (2005)

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Director: Anand Tucker
Year: 2005
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

A young woman (Claire Danes) working at Saks Fifth Avenue begins an affair with a much older wealthy man (Steve Martin). However, the actual extent of their relationship seems to be a matter of contention between the two of them.

"Shopgirl" is directed by Anand Tucker and is written by Steve Martin based on his own novel of the same name. It stars Claire Danes as Mirabelle, a young woman who works the fancy glove counter at a Saks Fifth Avenue department store. She is just trying to pay off her student loans and is barely making ends meet. Mirabelle also has clinical depression. Joining her is Steve Martin himself, who plays Ray Porter, a wealthy businessman who takes a romantic interest in Mirabelle. She has recently had some bad luck with a guy she met at the laundromat named Jeremy, played by Jason Schwartzman, who was a little too immature and self-centered to be a serious romantic interest of Mirabelle's. When this wealthy, sort of mysterious older man begins to shower her with gifts and fancy dinners and comes calling, she quickly falls head over heels for him. They begin a lured sexual affair, and though Ray is up front with her about his intentions and desires and lets her know they have no long term future due to their age gap, Mirabelle doesn't quite allow that to sink into her thought process. She starts to fall in love with Ray and actually thinks they will be in a long-term committed relationship despite his insistence that he wants nothing more than a physical fling.

This film is extremely well acted by the three principle actors. Steve Martin has been able to show off his much more subdued, dramatic acting abilities over the past few years as he has moved farther and farther away from his old silly comedic shtick...well, some of the time. His character Ray seemingly has it all, but also has absolutely nothing as well. Martin and Danes have surprisingly good chemistry despite their age difference as a "couple." Claire Danes does a first-rate job playing her depressed, bipolar character Mirabelle as she shows off her amazing, top notch crying face on at least one occasion. Her crying face gives us life. Jason Schwartzman is also superb in his execution of the emotionally stunted Jeremy, who clearly cares about Mirabelle, but just can't get over his childish, quirky, immature ways. In an odd twist, Jeremy spends most the movie traveling with a rock band who teaches him how to be a more caring boyfriend, which really does him a world of good. As Mirabelle navigates through her growing feelings for Ray and through her melancholia, she also discovers herself, only it takes a lot longer for her to find her way there.

The story in "Shopgirl" is a very human one about people, relationships, mental illness, soul mates, and misunderstandings. We like the characters, even when they are at their worst or their most vulnerable points. We remain engaged by the quippy, relationship-oriented dialogue and the situations that feel much more realistic than most Hollywood films involving some sort of love triangle. It does feel a bit cynical and jaded, but not to the extent that it's morose.

All in all, "Shopgirl" is a different kind of dramatic romance, one with a lot of honesty and great acting.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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