Monday, July 9, 2012

Shopgirl: Rom-Dram?

When I first saw Shopgirl on the shelf at Blockbuster a few years ago (wow I'm old), I thought it would be a hilarious romantic comedy with my favorite Steve Martin character, Jason Schartzman as the awkward goofy guy, and Claire Daines as a cool love interest.

Then I read the book last month. Little did I know that I had the complete layout a little skewed.

Shopgirl isn't really a funny movie. It's actually sad for a good portion of the novella and Steve Martin, you can tell, took pains to see that the movie closely followed his original work.

Observe, the original work.

Claire Daines plays Mirabelle, a shopgirl working at a glove counter in the couture department of Saks Fifth Avenue in LA. Yes, glove counter. And no, Mirabelle hardly ever sells any. Her life is dominated by tedium and her shy demeanor doesn't really give her much wiggle room in terms of making new friends.


While things look up for a brief time when she goes out with a man named Jeremy (Schwartzman), Mirabelle's future looks a little bleak. But Mirabelle's life gets turned on its side after she receives gloves from a stranger named Ray Porter (Martin) and the rest of the movie follows a map of human complexities and romantic interpretations.

Love stinks. Yeah yeah.

The movie is actually very beautiful. While seeing Steve Martin as this new complex character is a little throwing at first, he carries the role gracefully. The chemistry between Mirabelle and Ray Porter is a little stiff, but not unbelievable when compared to their characters, and their comfortability at some points in this film is almost heartbreaking when compared with their labeling of their relationship. The fragility of Mirabelle's poor little self is also a little sad. This is a sad love story for the majority of its duration. Mirabelle and Ray are both hopelessly flawed without any real idea of how to fix each other and without any real depth of understanding as to the other's entire personality.

Ah, l'amour.

But fear not, dear friends, because this movie ends on a high note (I won't ruin how). A very moody, poetic film typical almost of French cinema, Shopgirl keeps you pensive, breaks your heart, and renews your hope in love all in one sitting. Good job, Steve.

Six and a half stars.

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