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Overall Rating
3.78

Awesome: 32.31%
Worth A Look38.46%
Just Average: 10.77%
Pretty Crappy: 12.31%
Sucks: 6.15%

7 reviews, 23 user ratings


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Shopgirl
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by Laura Kyle

"Now that you're back Claire, can you take over for Scarlett?"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: Steve Martin hands over most of his scenes to star Claire Danes in his most personal film to date. At once lovely and heartbreaking, but never quite melancholy, Shopgirl is, to some extent, a softer Lost in Translation set in Los Angeles.

Danes is Mirabelle, a lonely, demure young woman whoís just moved from Vermont to Los Angeles and is courted by the shallow, immature Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) and the wealthy Roy Porter (Steve Martin), who also happens to be decades older than her.

Considering Martinís material, which is as unsensational as real life, Anand Tuckerís inspired directorial style and Peter Suschitzkyís exquisite cinematography are invaluable. Iíve never seen the Los Angeles of Shopgirl before. Tucker was a wonderful choice for director Ė Shopgirl is unique, yet so classical looking, relying heavily on creative camerawork. It boasts some of the most striking imagery Iíve seen in recent memory and cinematic moments that may not arouse much more than pleasant ambivalence at first, but stick with you long after the end credits.

Much like Lost in Translation, Shopgirl is an aesthetic experience. Without the soundtrack, itíd be a very quiet film and Martin has a lot of faith in his audience that it will figure out what heís not overtly telling them (barring his characterís revealing voiceover narration that is). And luckily, this minimalist approach leaves lots of room for acting.

Danes is simply remarkable here; her performance is understated, graceful and is of equal technique and authenticity. Sheís much more deserving of attention from the Academy than Scarlett Johansson was for Lost in Translation. The same canít be said really for Steve Martin Ė regarding Bill Murray Ė but thatís quite intentional I imagine; one suspects his film is a letter to a lost love and not necessarily a character study focused on him alone.

The comedy is nice, often great, but more of a side note. It feels like something Martin couldnít resist, but didnít necessarily intend, except perhaps to highlight how awkward and strange love and relationships really are. But the effect of this is Shopgirl has a very natural sense of humor that fortunately gets taken advantage of by the talented Jason Schwartzman, who provides almost all the comedic relief (and apparently improvised more than a few lines).

The result is a hopeful film that couldíve taken a much sadder route Ė however, not a grain of honesty is expended because of this. Shopgirl is very much about loss, longing, and regret, it just finds a peace within it all and accepts the reality that people learn and change slowly, not in the duration of a primetime makeover show. They don't always say the most romantic things or do the most exciting things.

As an added bonus, composer Barrington Pheloung offers up a totally unexpected and splendidly intrusive score that is sometimes sugary sweet and other times, dramatic and ominous. When the characters arenít easily understood, the music picks up some of the slack. In fact, the music, in general, is an essential part of Shopgirl. Jeremyís musician buddy (John Fedevich, Almost Famous) has more than one snippet of a set featured and quite frankly, I want his album!

The fashion, too, is hardly dispensable. Danes is clad in some of the most beautiful and elegant dresses, and they are clearly influenced by Danes (Mirabelle), not current fads. Just as Shopgirlís soundtrack is sure to adorn fans, so is Danes' wardrobe (as is her lack of a wardrobe in one scene, to the male audience at least). Expect to see the fashion magazines take notice.

Shopgirl is so satisfying, despite what little it gives up to an audience not willing to work for it. An unconventional, honest romance paired with gorgeous visuals, Shopgirl will garner criticism from folks who thought Lost in Translation was way better, but I'd rather judge it all on its own and what I see is a film that just aches with its themes and makes me wonder what woman, if based on a real person, Martin wrote it about...and possibly, for.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12767&reviewer=369
originally posted: 10/21/05 17:15:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/17/10 Dr.Lao Its sad to see a true original like Steve Martin re-hashing cliches and calling it a script 2 stars
6/15/08 PAUL SHORTT HAS'NT THE BRIGHTNESS OF A ROMANTIC COMEDY NOR THE TRISTESSE OF MELODRAMA 1 stars
3/23/08 ladavies I was touched by this. It had some moments that felt authentic. 5 stars
5/18/07 David Pollastrini CLAIRE DAINES IS HOT IN THIS! 3 stars
5/17/07 ES Everytime I see Jason Schwartzman on the screen I want to punch him in the head 2 stars
9/18/06 Jaden The movie worth the $10, this reviewer is trying to sound smart but has no clue. 5 stars
9/01/06 Jim Interesting but plotless character study 4 stars
4/27/06 Phil M. Aficionado Yes, yeah, right, bingo. It IS life, and it is beautifully done all around/ 5 stars
4/22/06 Mase Definatley for people living in LA, Beautifully shot but a little hollow. 4 stars
11/27/05 Milo A truly awful stinking turd of a movie. It's not honest, IT'S BORING. 1 stars
11/27/05 Elizabeth S Heartbreaking. 4 stars
11/18/05 Jimmy Kustes For those that like character studies over narratives 5 stars
11/14/05 Kyle Molin Good Movie. Well acted even w/o Jimmy Fallon. Still, the book was better 4 stars
11/14/05 Amy Loved the book. Loved the movie. 5 stars
11/14/05 Khan Jari Californian overwrtought , pretentious fluff. Pathetic. "This is life"??? Gimme a break. 1 stars
11/12/05 Ali Shamelessly sentimental and equally insensitive...sounds like real life. True and honest. 5 stars
11/12/05 Rae touching, beautiful and awkward 4 stars
11/10/05 John Adams This was a well written thoughtful look into something that probably happens more often tha 5 stars
11/06/05 brit Tries to be artsy but instead completely ridiculous. Also insulting to women. 1 stars
11/04/05 db I thought the movie was excellent. It was nice to go to a movie about real life. 5 stars
11/02/05 thomasrichmond.biz very funny with a steve martin sence of humor 4 stars
10/13/05 Sarah S Great movie, interesting juxtaposition of artsy scenes with funny. 5 stars
9/12/05 Alex Brisbourne A real treat (and a surprise). Good script, well produced. Enjoy! 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Oct-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006

UK
  20-Jan-2006 (15)

Australia
  01-Dec-2005




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