Personal Shopper

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Personal Shopper Movie Poster Image
Kristen Stewart stars in entrancing, violent mystery.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 105 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

What the movie is actually trying to say is up for interpretation, but it does show a sister dedicated to her brother -- and and a woman dedicated to believing in something that isn't easy to believe in.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Maureen isn't necessarily a strong female character (or particularly admirable), she's at least interesting, making her own decisions and guiding her own destiny.

Violence

Bloody, gruesome murder scene. Some scary stuff -- ghosts, etc. Talk of characters who died.

Sex

Maureen is shown topless on two occasions. She masturbates in bed (implied). Mention of an extramarital affair.

Language

A few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "hell," "ass," "d--k."

Consumerism

Frequent use of an iPhone; mentions of Apple products. Bottle of Stolichnaya vodka shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. Brief social drinking. Bottle of vodka shown.

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.

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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 ...

  • Families can talk about Personal Shopper's violence. Is it shocking? Exhilarating? Numbing? What's the impact of violent media on kids?

  • 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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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