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Tuesday, September 13, 2005
 

Hollywood Reporter Review of Shopgirl


http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/entertainment/article.adp?id=20050911170609990007&cid=445
Film review: Shopgirl
By Michael Rechtshaffen, Reuters

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Displaying some fine performances -- including a lovely one by Claire Danes and a lively one by Jason Schwartzman -- the elegantly appointed "Shopgirl" certainly has the goods but it ultimately fails to make the sale.

Adapted by Steve Martin from his 2000 novella, this particular L.A. story is fraught with stark poignancy and quirkier lighter moments, but under the direction of Anand Tucker ("Hilary and Jackie") those dueling moods struggle to find a common ground.

With the more morose mode winning out in the end, the Touchstone picture will be hard-pressed to ring up significant numbers in a crowded season of awards contenders.

Danes is Mirabelle, a fragile young woman who has arrived in Los Angeles from Vermont hoping to start a new life as an artist, but for the time being she spends her days working in the quiet glove department at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, while her nights are spent alone in her dark Silver Lake apartment.

Potential relief on the lonely hearts front finally arrives in the form of not one but two very different individuals.

First, while waiting for her clothes to dry in the Laundromat, she meets the terminally awkward Jeremy (Schwartzman), a certified oddball of an amplifier salesman and budding font artist whose idea of a romantic first date is sitting outside Universal CityWalk and just staring at all the bright signs.

Things look more promising with Ray Porter (Martin), a wealthy logistician who shows up at Mirabelle's glove counter one day with the intention of wining and dining her in style.

Despite Ray's repeated warnings that he's not looking for anything serious, Mirabelle puts considerable stock in their May-December romance even though it's only a matter of time before her heart gets broken.

There are some effective moments in this glove story, but the film, which was originally shot two years ago and has undergone significant reshaping in the interim, keeps getting pulled back into a persistent state of malaise.

And while Danes does fine work and it's nice to see Martin (who also provides some needless narration) digging deeper than he has in a while to play the part of her emotionally distant suitor, it's Schwartzman who practically shoplifts the picture, generating some welcome energy.

Although the setting is contemporary, production designer William Arnold lends the film a period 1950s patina with shades of Edward Hopper, while cinematographer Peter Suschitzky contributes the sophisticated compositions.

Not as wonderful is the insistent Barrington Pheloung score, which churns and swells yearningly at the drop of a, uh, glove.

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