CG Cinema 105 Minutes R Reviewed march 17, 2017
Here’s a film that may have you talking to yourself like we did when we come out of the theater. And you may ask, “What was that?!” Writer/Director Oliver Assayas is known for making ethereal films. He and Kristen Stewart worked together before in The Clouds of Sils Maria. He recognizes her acting ability and shows it off in very strange ways in this mysterious thriller. If you had any doubts about her being a serious actress, she shows she can more than handle being the lead in this one. Stewart may make you nervous, but that’s what this film is supposed to do. There are several story lines that go off in many different directions. Director Assayas combines the supernatural with a murder, threatening phone texts and high fashion. The film is shot with a grainy texture. Consistent use of hand-held looking shots gives this film an almost documentary feel.
Kristen Stewart is on the screen as Maureen nearly every minute. The first scene is an ominous long take following her through the old mansion outside Paris. It’s the property of her recently deceased twin brother and his girlfriend. Maureen’s brother, Lewis, was some kind of clairvoyant and Maureen wants to see if she can act as a medium to make contact with him in the house. She’s also checking it out to allay the fears of potential buyers. This opening sequence is a slow and incredibly tense proposition where apparitions appear. You will see more of them later in the film.
That’s just for starters. After Maureen goes through that nail biting, nerve wracking night in her brother’s haunted house, she carries on with her life as a personal shopper for a real person she has trouble connecting with herself. Her boss Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten) is a celebrity who is too busy and important.
Maureen carries on by hopping on her scooter going from designer shops to showrooms where she picks out and handles big bucks buying expensive designer trendy pieces of clothing and jewelry for her boss, Kyra. The purpose is to help her make a splash at the elite parties she attends. These are pieces to drool over and Maureen, who is dressed like a ragamuffin, does. She knows that even though she’s the same size as Kyra, trying them on is a no no.
At one point, when she arrives at her boss’s apartment, she is completely ignored. Ingo (Lars Eidinger), is her boss’s ex-boyfriend waiting to talk to Kyra, too. He strikes up a conversation with Maureen and offers to put in a good word for her at Vogue to get a real job. Don’t know if he’s hitting on her or not.
In the meantime, Maureen is still dealing with trying to reach her brother. That’s when the mysterious texts start appearing on her phone. Is it Lewis? Ingo? Someone else? A stalker? She engages in frantic back and forth texts with this very bold personality who piques her interest with intimate questions. Her head is in her phone for a good part of the rest of the film. Who is this person? He leads her into doing some things she normally wouldn’t do, including trying on Kyra’s clothes she is forbidden to touch and have a solo erotic experience while wearing them.
Then there’s this murder Maureen discovers in the course of doing her job. Is this a Hitchcock wannabe movie? The texts continue and we follow as all of these dark forces are freaking her out. It freaked us out, too. It’s disturbing and confusing, to say the least. The end will leave you hanging.
This is an interesting piece of filmmaking that will have you scratching your heads. Director Assayas must’ve had a very bad nightmare to pack all of these plot lines into one film. Kristen Stewart shows that she can act in an intense and artsy project so critically acclaimed at film festivals. But we wonder if this was made for audiences or to satisfy the vanity of the filmmakers? The moral of the story is that shopping and ghost-hunting don’t always mix.