Shopgirl is the most European movie of the year. Can’t you just see this on a poster? This feeling can be good (Amelie) or bad (Asylum) depending on how it’s handled. Unfortunately here it’s a bad thing. Scenes last too long for no apparent reason and in the end it adds up to a little less than you’d hope for. Shopgirl also has the dreaded mood setting opening credits, the type that hearken back to a day when movie going audiences had five minutes to just stare at names on a screen against artsy blurry visions of where the movie will take place. This is no way to start a film anymore people!
Ninety-nine percent of the movies about Hollywood and L.A. are about “making it big” or “going after your dreams”. Shopgirl asks what about all the dreams that take a header on the pavement? What about the other million people? Some people never get the chance to get propositioned on a casting couch or know someone who knows someone who was once James Bond. The fact is most people don’t make it and wake up at 35 waiting tables at Spago. This is their story! The fact that they weren’t exactly clamoring for a story doesn’t seem to have inhibited production in the slightest.
The film deals with the love arcs of Claire Danes as Mirabelle Buttersfield, aka the gal who works at Sak’s 5th Avenue in the glove department. I didn’t even know they had a glove department anymore, but there she is; an artsy waif, a canvas upon which men bounce off of. I’m an unapologetic Claire Danes fan (my apologies) and I think she does well here. Even more delightful is Jason Shwartzman as Jeremy whom I like more and more every time I see him. He’s never been bad to me but then again I didn’t see Bewitched. The film is funny and fresh when he’s on screen. Speaking of the good parts about Shopgirl it has some truly funny lines, and an interesting take on love lost and gained.
Sadly the issues with Shopgirl are much more prevalent. It is a movie that’s 50 minutes too long, which is quite a bit as that’s half of the length. The film goes for conclusions that aren’t necessarily there and it feels tedious when Steve Martin (as Ray Porter) is doing his best Bill Murray impression. He courts Mirabelle in the old fashion way of simply not talking. He’s not bad in the role; the problem is the overall tiresome feel.
There is a good story in there somewhere, buried amidst the wreckage. There is a certain beauty in the stillness. Jeremy and Mirabelle’s relationship is darn cute at times, and Mirabelle and Ray have an altogether different type of love. Each of the relationships has cinematic value at times. Just not enough. Shopgirl is a pass because it doesn’t execute well enough. The heady concepts and frequent laughs don’t make up for the yawns you’ll have to endure over the second 50 minutes.