A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Personal Shopper is a dramatic thriller about a woman (Kristen Stewart) living in Paris who works as a personal shopper for a model and is trying to contact her dead twin brother's ghost. Told in a very unusual way, it's unlike anything that you'd expect and is highly recommended for older teens and adults. But be ready for scary scenes and some gore: There are ghostly images and a gruesome, bloody murder scene, as well as brief talk of death. The main character appears topless in two scenes and masturbates in bed, and an extramarital affair is mentioned. Language is infrequent but strong and includes "f--k," "bulls---," "s--t," and more. The main character smokes cigarettes, and there's some drinking.
What's the story?
In PERSONAL SHOPPER, Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) is in Paris, paying the rent by working as a personal shopper for a monstrously conceited supermodel. But she's also a medium who shared her gift with her twin brother, Lewis. He died of a heart condition -- a condition that Maureen also has. She hopes that because of their connection, her brother will send a sign from beyond. And since Paris is where he died, that's where Maureen waits. Then, while collecting dresses and jewelry in London, she receives a mysterious text. Could it be some unknown prankster, or could it be her brother? Or could it be some other malevolent ghost from the spirit realm?
Is it any good?
Working for the second time with French director Olivier Assayas, Stewart gives a superb performance in this mysterious, compelling story, balanced cleverly between the known and the unknown. Following their work on the excellent, Cesar Award-winning Clouds of Sils Maria, the pair revisits some of the same territory -- the world of elite celebrities and the regular people who work for them. But Personal Shopper steps directly into the supernatural as well, treating it not as a jump-scare gimmick but simply as a reality.
Assayas, whose career has hardly followed any kind of conventional path, successfully tells his story in a most unusual way, with Stewart frequently onscreen alone, yet still creating a tension between a professional exterior and an uncertain interior. A long sequence in which she simply texts should have been a bore, but it's riveting. Meanwhile, the ghost sequences don't follow any kind of traditional genre rules, and, notably, the main character never even sees them. This is a highly uncommon movie, but for bold viewers, it's a bracing, entrancing experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? How are ghosts used and shown within the story?
Why do you think Maureen smokes? Does she make it look cool? Are there consequences?
Does the movie appear to believe in life after death or a spirit world? What does that say about the characters' existence? What do you believe?
- In theaters: March 10, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 24, 2017
- Cast: Kristen Stewart, Nora von Waldstatten, Lars Eidinger
- Director: Olivier Assayas
- Studio: IFC Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some language, sexuality, nudity and a bloody violent image
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