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Saturday, September 10, 2005

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Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl comes to life on screen at film fest
Megan Leach
Canadian Press
Saturday, September 10, 2005

Claire Danes laughs with Steve Martin' at a news conference for the movie Shopgirl. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)

TORONTO (CP) - Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl comes to life in film with Claire Danes in the title role. The movie premiered Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Shopgirl stars Danes as Mirabelle, a slightly lost everygirl who works at the glove counter in Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. Martin and Jason Schwartzman play her two very different love interests.

Martin's Ray is a far cry from a wild and crazy guy. He's a charming, reserved, Mr. Big-type suitor for the heroine. Schwartzman's Jeremy is the polar opposite - a goofy, good-natured guy who has a lot to learn about adult relationships.

Martin told a festival news conference he never envisioned the novella as a movie. "In fact, when I finished writing it, I thought 'At last, something that can never be changed into a film.' " He said it took him two years to develop the story into a film.

Danes said she read the novella in one sitting.

"It was incredibly subtle and poignant and relatable," she said. "And amazingly impressive that Steve could depict a woman so richly."

Danes said working closely with Martin on Shopgirl was like dancing with a really good partner. "I just get to follow and feel incredibly graceful and capable. But he's doing all of the work."

Schwartzman called Martin an "exquisite" writer, and that working with him "is like being asked to play drums on a Keith Moon record."

Director Anand Tucker also sang Martin's praises as a writer. "The novella was this perfect thing in and of itself," said Tucker. "The screenplay was its own complete being in its own self. These were two perfectly formed things."

Tucker said the film is a meditation on loneliness and how people make connections. "It's like a dance between these three people. It's very delicate and sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes terribly sad."

Shopgirl opens in wide release in October.


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