Friday, March 17, 2006


Title: Shopgirl
Cast: Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson, Sam Bottoms, Frances Conroy
Director: Anand Tucker

Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes) is a small town girl who has moved to LA as an aspiring artist. Though she makes ends meet by working in the sparsely patronised glove department of a major store. She feels a little isolated and stuck in a rut, so the approach of Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) offers some hope. However as young and attractive as he, he has no money, or manners, and only really seems interested in sex. Before she can get too disappointed though she is approached by Ray Porter (Steve Martin). He is older, for sure, but he is rich and charming. Despite the fact that he is really only after sex as well he is much more charming, and Mirabelle allows herself to think that there is more to it than that.

Shop Girl is produced and written by Steve Martin, adapted from his novella – which I read several years ago. Martin’s work as an actor is hit and miss. Though I suspect that the ones that he had more input into and are more original are the ones where he is better. I particularly enjoyed films like LA Story, Grand Canyon and Leap Of Faith, which is how I came to read Shop Girl. Though I recall being disappointed when I read it. Perhaps because of the change of medium – the being used to him as an actor rather than writer? Perhaps because it was published as a novel and I expected a novel rather than a novella?

As a film the story comes to life - the three leads bring the characters to life. The mannerisms, reactions and the way the characters just interact with each other clicks into place on the screen – visual things that come over better than they might in the sparseness of a novella.

For the most part Shop Girl is a fairly quiet, downbeat film. Which is perhaps why it doesn’t seem t have had too much of a profile – barely being shown for a week, while lesser films just seem to go on and on. I rather enjoyed this film, it appealed to that vague romantic spark I have somewhere inside. Watching it makes me want to re-read the novella; if only I could remember which pile books I put it in.

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