We are long past the days of being surprised when Kristen Stewart gives a great performance in a movie. I do wonder what her career would look like without the Twilight movies, though. If she was still the actor who did Panic Room and Zathura – just not the Twilight movies – I suspect she’d be making the same kind of movies we see her in today. She doesn’t seem like someone who is that interested in huge studio movies. Without Twilight, the only two differences would be a) the whole “I’m shocked she’s good,” 2012 – 2014 phase of her career and b) she’d probably have a lot less paparazzi attention.
But with Personal Shopper – which premiered at Cannes and just had its New York Film Festival debut – she does something I’ve never seen her do before: She singlehandedly turns a movie that probably should have been dreadful into something that can be described as “good.” I mean, seriously, she saved this movie. Oh, let me explain:
Before we even get to the plot, let it be known that the second act of Personal Shopper is almost entirely a series of text messages. If you’ve ever thought, I love getting text messages so much I wish I could watch someone get text messages in a movie, then you will love Personal Shopper. For the other 99 percent of us, it’s annoying. And goes on and on and on. Plus, Kristen Stewart’s character, Maureen, has the “keyboard clicks” feature on – while she’s traveling on what appears to be the quiet car of a train. (If there were ever a moment I lost sympathy for her character, it was right here.)
I found myself getting actively annoyed during a movie I was enjoying until that point. And director Olivier Assayas (who directed Stewart in the wonderful Clouds of Sils Maria) just keeps coming back to those texts. It just keeps on happening. It was kind of like airplane turbulence in the middle of a flight. Basically, if you can make it through the rough part, it doesn’t come back. But, boy, that rough part does last for a good while.