Personal Shopper ★★★½

'Personal Shopper' was a ride and a half for me. I loved the aesthetics, the phenomenal performance by Kristen Stewart, and the character development throughout. But... am I an idiot, or was this movie way too ambiguous for its own good?

Cinematography-wise, this flick does just about everything right. The coloration and camera work is pretty engaging, notwithstanding the ALMOST corny VFX ghosts that come and go. Some of the fade to black cuts and seemingly halting jump cuts between scenes even worked for me, which I know was a bit divisive for some other viewers.

A couple of long shots on Kristen's face make this movie watchable even if it had nothing else going for it. The presence and life (pun intended?) that she brings to the screen is wonderful, considering the camera focuses on her for minutes on end with little else happening on screen. The closing sequence is particularly where Kristen shines, as she deservingly steals the screen and demands the viewer's eyes while she runs an absolute CLINIC on subtle face-acting. Amazing work out of her, and so much so that I'll easily go to see her next work.

The ambiguity of 'Personal Shopper' lost me a little bit, however, despite trying my best to keep up with the bread crumbs dropped by Assayas through the film. Before I rewatch in search of answers, my best guess is that she dies at some point midway, and the conversations with her friends that follow are their attempts to guide her to her own passing-over. It seems like at one point she gripped her chest, and I had a flashback to the doctor telling her to avoid extreme emotions, which is the point she likely died in search of her brother. Unfortunately, and it may be my own shortcomings, this was too much searching for me. In this department, 'Personal Shopper' asked too many questions and gave too few answers. Again, maybe another viewing will shore up the film for me, who knows.

This flick has some powerful thematic choices being made. The standout themes include grief, morality, afterlife, and general human trauma. Assayas comments on the extent to which the human condition is effected by our belief in its endpoint, and that makes for a fun headspace and cinematic universe to live in, maybe even compounded by the fact that he doesn't neatly lay out any answers in black and white.

Might recommend to fans of film, but not the general viewing audience.