MovieReview! shopgirl

Shopgirl (Spoilers)

On Tuesday, I realized I hadn't been to a movie in ages. My friend Hadas hadn't, either, so we decided to see Shopgirl at Kendall on Wednesday after toning our biceps at the gym. I didn't know too much about the movie, save that it starred Steve Martin and Claire Danes. I assumed it would be a riotous romantic comedy, with hilarious antics from Steve and subtle demurring from Claire; upon seeing the poster with Jason Schwartzman (of Rushmore and I Heart Huckabees fame) I thought – this will be a riot!! I'll lose myself in two hours of pure entertainment in a cushy, expensive theater!

Well, that's what I get for not reading reviews before I go to movies. Indeed, Jason Schwartzman was hifreakinlarious – he's a comedic genius! And the portions of the movie in which he appeared were quirky, cute, and made me laugh out loud. That was truly a testimony to Steve Martin's writing – he adapted his own novella (also called “Shopgirl”) into the screenplay. However, the characters which Martin and Danes portrayed were simply… odd. Martin plays Ray Porter, a divorced man in his fifties who notices Mirabelle, a Sak's Fifth Avenue employee in her twenties, at her counter. He woos her, only to reveal that he's not that interested in a serious relationship (i.e. he'll keep sleeping with her, but with no strings attached. Jerk.). However, he seems to be almost drugged by the idea of romance, and by the idea of Mirabelle and her young, quiet, dull perfection. Mirabelle, on the other hand, is entranced by Ray and his (seemingly endless) money, enough so that she ignores his obvious inability to commit, and hopes and dreams that he'll fall in love with her. (Jason Schwatzman's character, Jeremy, is more peripheral, but is a lovely portrayal of a young man discovering how to relate to a woman, and how to move from his fantastical perception of her (and of himself), into a truly equal and open relationship.)

Having been romanced by men nearly twice my age, I can attest to the veracity of Steve Martin's Ray Porter, and I definitely fell victim once again to the allure of a seemingly put together older man: I thought that Ray was the real deal, and couldn't believe it when it was revealed that he was nothing but a cad. I suppose that Martin gave a convincing performance; however, I felt that the screenplay allowed Martin to wallow in his hallucinogenic idea of romance (picture him sipping wine in a private jet plane, large window revealing the moon and shimmering clouds, as he reminisces about Mirabelle's perfect body in slow motion).

Mirabelle, surprisingly (or maybe not so, considering the self-centered focus of Martin's screenplay) was boring, superficial, and nothing but a woman idealized by others – and created by others, as evidenced by her desire to be loved by Ray. She was unable to extract herself from the relationship at the first sign of Ray's lameness, simply because she did not have enough sense of self to be on her own, undefined by men. And it *is* complicated — Ray acted like he was in love with her in many instances. But there was a layer of his mind which couldn't commit, and Mirabelle didn't call him on it until it became PAINFULLY obvious. Man. That Ray Porter – what a jerk.

The score to the film, by the way, was terrible. It was basically the same four descending notes, over and over again, played on marimba or strings, always in accompaniment to scenes of Claire Danes undressing in slow motion.

I'm actually not sure whether or not I'd recommend this movie. It was a long two hours. I did smile quite a bit, and again, Jason Schwartzman's character and all the events on his road trip are fantastically funny.
Claire Danes for an Oscar? No way. Maybe Steve Martin. My verdict? DVD rental.

One thought on “MovieReview! shopgirl

  • 12/8/2005 at 11:49 am

    My lady and I both read the book two years ago, and saw the movie last month. I’m intrigued by your impression of Claire Daines as Mirabelle. She isn’t given a lot of depth in the book either; there is very little revealed, despite the omniscient tone. Perhaps Martin just doesn’t write women well? Or maybe Mirabelle’s character is supposed to be naive and needy.

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