Don’t worry about Kristen Stewart. She knows exactly what she’s doing. Having earned international fame and fortune from the Twilight movies, she has now parlayed her Hollywood status into the ability to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. And the movies she wants to make, it seems, are small, stimulating and thoughtful. In other words, as un-Twilight as you can get.
Since the last Twilight movie imploded our box offices in 2012, Stewart has colored in her resume with almost nothing but independent/low budget/foreign films, garnering better and better reviews along the way. Her performances in movies such as Still Alice, Certain Women, Clouds of Sils Maria and Café Society finally led everyone to realize that this girl-who-was-famous-for-being-Bella actually had some depth—both to her acting and to her career aspirations. (Fun fact: in 2015, Stewart became the first American EVER to win a Cesar award—France’s Oscars—for her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria)
The topper—so far—is yet another foreign-made film called Personal Shopper. Directed by French director Olivier Assayas, Personal Shopper is a sometimes-creepy drama about a woman who is haunted by the recent death of her twin brother. Just as much about the nature of grief as it is about pushing yourself through it, Personal Shopper is compelling beyond all expectation. At the center of it all, carrying every scene, most often by herself, is Stewart, a screen presence that captivates through a quiet strength, always coiled, never revealing.
The movie itself is just so riveting, even aside from Stewart’s magnetic appeal. Assayas takes us to the heart of Paris and the city becomes another character, as we follow Stewart’s character as she travels through the city, on subways and scooters, and even outside the city on trains and cars. Traveling and moving through places is a not-too-subtle theme of Personal Shopper, as Stewart’s character Maureen is desperate to move on to the next level in her emotional acceptance of her brother’s death. Using a great deal of natural light, and shooting often at twilight and at night, Assayas creates a moody feel, bringing the audience into Maureen’s emotional space, causing us to feel uneasy and even frightened at times.
Personal Shopper is a weird film, combining Hitchcock with Shyamalan, but it will suck you in—or, rather, Kristen Stewart will—and you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat without even knowing it. Consider yourself warned: not about this movie, but about the fact that we are going to have to start taking Kristen Stewart VERY seriously. Weird, huh?