Thoughts on Personal Shopper’s horror-themed brilliance – and Kristen Stewart’s phenomenal lead turn.
“I need more from you.”
Is this a horror movie? Many have called it that, but it doesn’t really feel like it – in the conventional sense. It certainly embraces a few horror tropes, jacking up the tension so effectively when necessary, and diving into what proves to be a rather creepy ghost story. Its very essence feels trapped between the realms of realism and the supernatural, teasing its audience with a tale open to multiple interpretations. And if you think that description is ambiguous and perplexing, just wait ’til you see the actual film.
I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t a challenge. There were times where it lost me – only to pull me back and strengthen its stranglehold ever tighter. It shifts its tone so comfortably. A slow-burn, methodical juxtaposition between the mundanity of day-to-day-life and the dark allure of the afterlife gives way to a chilling psychological thriller. One blessed with some of the most intense texting you’ll ever witness on the big screen.
Assayas knows what he’s doing with those aforementioned horror tropes, marrying conventional scares in the shadows with a feeling of unease that creeps under your skin and lingers long after the credits have rolled. Kristen Stewart is a tour-de-force: part enigmatic lone wolf, driven by desire and a quest for identity, part spiritual victim, left vulnerable and consumed by her own close personal trauma. The range of emotions she’s required to call upon in her performance is unlike anything I’ve seen from her before. Her character is the perfect embodiment of the entities she’s so fascinated by: a lost soul.
It’s official: between her turns in this, Equals, Certain Women, Clouds Of Sils Maria, and likely countless other post-Twilight indies I haven’t treated myself to yet, Kristen Stewart’s proved herself to be one of the most talented actresses on the planet.
Featured image art by Tula Lotay.