Cannes Day 7: Kristen Stewart and ‘Personal Shopper’

 

Kristen Stewart in "Personal Shopper."

Kristen Stewart in “Personal Shopper.”

Kristen Stewart has gotten a bum rap in the United States because of her role in the “Twilight” series, which wasn’t exactly Oscar material. In French director Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” she shows some of her overlooked acting talents.

It’ll be interesting to see how the movie plays in the United States. Its initial reception after the press screening on Monday night was not good. In fact, there were plenty of boos — something critics in Cannes are prone to do.

Part of that response was probably due to the ambiguity of the ending, which won’t be revealed here. But it’s safe to say that most audiences expect clear answers when watching a supposed genre horror film.

Still,  Stewart gives a fine performance as a personal shopper for a wealthy woman in Paris. There’s much more going on, however, than just buying fancy clothes and jewels. Rather, Stewart’s character is a medium who is trying to make contact with her dead twin brother, Lewis.

She’s also addicted to her iPhone. And that’s the source of much of the movie’s mastery. She gets a message from an unknown number, and the messages begin to escalate, indicating that whoever is behind those messages is tracking all of her movements.

Most of the buzz in Cannes was somewhat insipid, focusing on Stewart’s topless scene, where she tries on one of the fetishistic breastplate harnesses that she has bought for her client. (The harness is to be worn underneath a sheer black dress.)

And there are a few less-than-artful uses of CGI to indicate the presence of a ghost.

To tell you the truth, I’m still not sure what to make of the movie. My initial response was negative, but I was sleepy and not fully engaged. “Personal Shopper” probably deserves another viewing. And I suspect it might be a good candidate for Austin’s Fantastic Fest.

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