When Personal Shopper came out in 2016, the rather unorthodox ghost story got quite good reviews. In particular, Kristen Stewart’s performance was praised, with reviewers saying some bananas shit like “Stewart is in nearly every scene, and she's phenomenal.” I commend this reviewer for making a factually accurate observation in the first part of his review, but after the comma he seems to have become untethered from reality and floated away into a parallel dimension. Or this one: “Stewart offers a refined version of her Twilight saga performance, which oscillates between discreet twitchiness and vocal outbursts, as if emotions had to fight against in order to be felt.” Now, I don’t mean to be hyperbolic here, but anybody who approvingly refers to the “refined version of her Twilight saga performance” and applauds Stewart’s “discreet twitchiness” should have their reviewer credentials revoked and never be allowed to watch another film again, except for maybe Home Alone on an endless loop.
Now basically what I am saying is that this movie sucks because Kristen Stewart is tasked with carrying it and she is a terrible, appalling actress. To his credit, French director Olivier Assayas has tried to hide the film’s shortcomings by disguising them as “art.” But the mustard came off the hotdog. He even kind of tried to lean into her neurotic blandness by making that a focal point, even an essential trait, of the main character. But in the end, even will all that smoke and mirrors, you are still left with the fact that your film is 90 minutes of Kristen Stewart walking up and down stairs, getting into and out of cars, and riding the train while displaying the kind of jittery “twitchiness” of someone who just injected a gram of a meth.
Does that sound like a good movie to you? Then I have great news for you! You will be delighted to know that there are countless scenes of Kristen Stewart opening a bottle of beer, or a bottle of liqour, or picking up a can of soda or cup of coffee, taking one sip from it, then putting it down like it insulted her and walking away like a nervous bird. There is a 15-minute sequence (I am not making this up) of Kristen Stewart sending and receiving texts to an unknown number while riding a train. The camera literally just shoots the phone screen over her shoulder while she answers and receives texts (nervously, of course, because what other way is there with this actress).
Now, some people would have you believe this is art because a French person made it. And I will admit the first few minutes had me intrigued. But that interest soon turned into dismay, followed by despair as it became clear that, indeed, the best that one could say about his movie was that Kristen Stewart, who is essentially the only person in this film and spends most of her time reacting to an iPhone screen, was giving us a “refined” take on her character from Twilight. Do not be fooled. Just because camera slowly fades in and out sometimes does not mean Kristen Stewart has suddenly become good at acting. You heard it here first.