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1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Anand Tucker

In adapting his popular novella to the big screen, Steve Martin chooses director Anand Tucker (HILARY AND JACKIE), whose artful eye (along with the film's stunning costumes, dramatic score, and brilliant set design) brings the book's detailed characters … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Director: Anand Tucker
Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Shopgirl

Who Knew Steve Martin Could Write So Well?

  • Oct 28, 2006
Pros: Outstanding performance by Claire Danes; a creditable story-line.

Cons: Steve Martin’s performance was somewhat understated.

The Bottom Line: Despite some flaws, Shopgirl was an enjoyable movie.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

I am not a very big Steve Martin fan; I usually don’t like his genre of movie, the slapstick comedy. But I have seen some of his work, and I will not deny his acting talent. I am however a Clair Danes fan. She is not a beauty in the classic sense, but there is something undeniably beautiful in the way she carries herself, and in the warmth of her engaging smile. Which brings me to Shopgirl, a movie interestingly enough that was written as a novella, then turned into a movie by Steve Martin, and directed by Anand Tucker a relative newcomer.

Mirabelle Buttersfield portrayed by Claire Danes (The Hours, Stage Beauty, My So-Called Life) is a lonely girl and aspiring artist. Despite her college degree she finds herself stuck in a dead-end job selling gloves at Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angles. Most of the time her despair and loneliness show on her face and in her demeanor; she is but a prop, sadly living life with out notice. That is until two very different men take an interest in her. She meets fellow artist Jeremy, portrayed by Jason Schwartzman (Slackers, I Heart Huckabees, Bewitched) at the local laundry-mat, and Ray Porter, portrayed by Steve Martin (Parenthood, The Jerk, Saturday Night Live) at Saks when he comes in the buy a pair of gloves that later end up on her doorstep. Jeremy is unsophisticated, unshaved, and untouched as it were by the niceties of gentlemanly behavior. He is totally inept, but he is a fellow lonely spirit, like Mirabelle, so they form a loose bond based on companionship and mutual need.

Ray Parker on the other hand is the direct opposite of Jeremy; he is rich, handsome, attentive, and twice Mirabelle’s age, but that never seem to be a factor in their relationship. Ray is the sort of man who has lived through life’s many mirages including a failed marriage and now enjoys female companionship, but wants to remain unattached. Ray is generous man; in fact he pays off Mirabelle’s student loans and buys her expensive cloths, and takes her to expensive restaurants. But Ray’s interest in Mirabelle never develops beyond casual sexual encounters, and friendly dinners. Mirabelle meanwhile grows attached in time despite knowing where Ray intensions lie, and this of course leads to tension in their relationship.

My Thoughts

In many ways Shopgirl is a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl in the end, type of story. Claire Danes with her diminutive stature and willowy beauty is perfect in the role of Mirabelle. It was easy to form an emotional attachment with her character given the ups and downs of her life. She is us (was me in my early twenties), and so most of us can easily relate to her lonely oft-depressed existence and the need to reach out and touch another human being, not matter the packaging. We are after-all social animals, and it is the (very) rare human who can survive without meaningful (intimate) human interaction for long without starting to feel hopeless.

Steve Martin played Ray very low keyed, almost too low keyed. At points he was in danger of disappearing altogether. It was hard to see what Mirabelle found so compelling about his character; Martin played him so one-dimensional and boring. Even the characters narration was monotone, and lacking in color, but perhaps that was the point. Ray perhaps was tired of living life, but reluctant to let go. What is the John Melloncamp life from Jack and Diane: Oh yeah, Life goes on, long after the thrill of living it is gone…

Honorable mention goes to Jason Schwartzman for his portrayal of Jeremy, and to Bridgette Wilson (Mortal Kombat, The Wedding Planner, House on Haunted Hill) for her portrayal of Lisa Cramer, Mirabelle’s pretty statuesque acquaintance at work whose own relationships with men are motivated by loneliness, less than honorable behavior, and a fair amount of greed.

Final Analysis: Shopgirl, despite its rather heavy subject matter and humorless packaging, was rather enjoyable, thanks in large part to the creditable screenplay and Ms. Dane’s performance.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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