Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Monday, October 10, 2005
An early Shopgirl review
KMT strikes again.
Movie Review: Shopgirl
Posted on 10/10/05 at 2:40 PM ET
Written By: Adam Gonshor
Beyond the sometimes-outrageous, often wild and crazy, performance that one expects from Steve Martin, the silver-crowned 60-year-old is a gifted actor.
King Tut may be a cocky stiff without the persona, but signs of Martin's true acting abilities have been seen throughout his career, whether it was playing the annoyed grumpy family man opposite John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles or more recently responding to his disorderly household in Cheaper by the Dozen.
His dramatic skills—the ones that are not dependant on a response of laughter—have never been more evident than in his most recent work, Shopgirl.
The film, based on Martin's 2001's novella, stars Claire Danes as Mirabelle, a struggling artist, forced to sell gloves at an L.A. department store.
Mirabelle meets Jeremy, played by Jason Schwartzman, and is turned off by his immaturity after their first date. She's sophisticated, he's far from it, but perhaps thinking he's the best she can get, or maybe curious as to why she is attracted to this unshaven oddball, she calls him and their relationship continues.
In the department store, she meets Martin's character, Ray, a much older gentleman, well-kept, handsome, dressed in a bold suit, reeking of power and money. In other words: the opposite of Jeremy.
Jeremy realizes he needs to change and begins a long tour serving as a band's equipment manager. Mirabelle and Ray begin a relationship that everyone –Ray and the audience—knows is doomed from the start. Ray tells a psychiatrist that the relationship is purely sexual. Mirabelle tells her friends she sees a future. She's so content with her new relationship that she stops taking her anti-depressant medication.
Ray has everything he could want in the world, except happiness. How he got rich, what profession he is, or was, in and his history of past relationships is never discussed. All the audience knows is he's wealthy and dishonest. That's all they need to know.
Mirabelle is young and vulnerable. In one scene, she returns to her parent's home and it becomes obvious why she left and moved to California. Her family lacks any emotions and barely utters a word while she is present. Just being able to live alone in California makes her a success.
Without losing her smile, Mirabelle is slowly being destroyed by a relationship that is based on sex, which she is too blind to see. The film is a half comedy, half tragedy. Even with a member of the comedic royalty always around the corner, Schwartzman brings the much-needed comic relief to an otherwise depressing plot. It's easy to forget that Martin normally plays the funny role, with the combination of his exceptional acting and Schwartzman's ability to cause laughter.
It's difficult to really care for anybody in the movie besides Mirabelle. You are angry with Ray, and you don't see enough of Jeremy to really gain a definite opinion. But you'll see some aspect of yourself in Mirabelle and pray she opens her eyes.
Martin's acting will be appreciated and the audience will no doubt see that the true comedic legends, who seemingly are always "on," have to also really know how to act and hide the comedic urge when necessary, like in Shopgirl. It's what sets Martin and Robin Williams apart from guys like Rob Schneider and Andy Dick, who both will one day be given purchased stars on Hollywood Boulevard despite not deserving them.
Don't judge the movie by its marketing campaign. The poster shows Mirabelle surrounded by Ray and Jeremy, but the movie is far from a love triangle (Ray and Jeremy never even appear in the same scene together). It's far too easy to classify this as a typical love triangle, suggesting Mirabelle has to choose between a young-slacker and a rich-older man, because it's far from that. Shopgirl will entrance you into a world where you ponder the true meaning of love, money, and happiness.
Shopgirl hits theatres in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto on October 18. It will screen in other cities in following two weeks. Check your local listings to see if it plays in your area.