Frown with limbs Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, a personal shopper who’s also a medium. That’s not her clothing size, I mean she can speak to the dead. Her recently deceased twin brother was also a medium (twins do have similar bodies after all), and before he died they had made a pact that whoever passed first would give their twin a sign from the other side. It’s the most preposterous ghost story since Robbie Williams claimed he was being haunted by Michael Winner.
All this silliness is unconvincingly packaged as a European arthouse film, complete with nudity, empty apartments and emptier characters. Writer/director Olivier Assayas (who previously worked with Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria) follows Maureen around Paris as she mopes on a moped, talks to a tap and texts a ghost. That’s right, she receives menacing texts from an unknown sender who appears to be watching her. Is it a spirit? A stalker? Who cares? Certainly not Maureen, who is unfazed and calmly goes along with it. At most she appears slightly miffed that her trying on clothes has been interrupted. For a long stretch we’re just watching her send and receive texts while she takes the Eurostar to London in what feels like real time.
Personal Shopper (the boring name should have been a clue) attempts to draw a contrast between the material and spiritual world, but it never really gets started. Without intrigue or plotting, this isn’t a mystery so much as a nonsense. The drama feels false and the characters intangible, especially the ones still alive. Assayas fails to even out the various shifts in tone or cover up the hokey plot, no matter how French he makes it look. This is a bougie, snoozy ghost story that makes When a Stranger Calls look like Strangers on a Train. By the hundredth time Maureen reaches for her phone, you’ll be doing the same.