|THE SHOPGIRL (2005)|
|"So, I can hurt now, or hurt later."|
|Time: 104 mins.|
SYNOPSIS: A shopgirl, Mirabelle, who feels useless in her job and unfulfilled by a romantic relationship, is bowled over when a rich, divorced older man, Ray, enters her life. Simultaneously, she is being pursued by Jeremy, a basic bachelor who's not quite as cultured and successful as Ray. When fate steps in, the outcome won't necessarily have a storybook ending, because in the end, it is life.
BOTTOM LINE: Being a big fan of Steve Martin, I was intrigued to see this film since it was one he both wrote and directed. It is nothing like his usual fare. It is a thoughtful, quiet and devastatingly heartbreaking look at love and the choices one young woman makes in her attempt to find happiness. Danes is perfectly cast as (Mabel), a pretty, shy, trusting girl who works the glove counter in a department store where nothing exciting ever happens. Her days pass by in silence and boredom, as she waits for her real life to begin. When the smart and sophisticated Ray (Martin) breaks through her calm façade and chooses her to be part of his world, she believes her life has taken a turn for the better. The entrance of Jeremy, an immature boy her own age who also develops a crush on her, only complicates her newfound joy, forcing her into a decision that changes her world forever. Despite her inner turmoil, this is an extremely quiet film that relies on subtle emotions, varying moods and body language to tell its’ tale.
There’s not a lot of dialogue, which may be disquieting for some viewers. One has to really watch the actors to glean what’s truly going on below the surface of their actions. Danes’ despair when she uncovers the truth about her relationship with Martin is palpable, though her character says almost nothing when faced with the truth. Her performance is one of the subtlest, yet powerful I’ve ever encountered, mostly because it reflects the emotional growth of millions of regular women around the world just trying to survive everyday life. The lack of melodrama is more the norm than we’re led to believe and a refreshing change from the usual over-the-top nature of love stories. Though I loved the mature and intellectual nature of the piece, I believe it probably plays better as a novel than a movie. It’s too slow and internal to ultimately be very entertaining. I applaud the effort, because the dearth of adult stories is appalling, however, this movie isn’t going to convince the studios to rush to make more.