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Shopgirl (R)

Release Date: October 21st, 2005 (NYC)
October 28th, 2005 (Wider) by Touchtone Pictures.
The Cast: Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson, Sam Bottoms, Frances Conroy, Rebecca Pidgeon.
Directed by Anand Tucker.

BASIC PREMISE: Mirabelle (Danes) gets stuck in a love triangle between Jeremy (Schwartzman), a poor young man, and Ray (Martin), a rich older man.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The relationship between Mirabelle and Jeremy has enough chemistry and offbeat humor to make it believable and engaging. On the other hand, Mirabelle’s awkward relationship with Ray lacks originality and comes off as contrived. Both men are worthy candidates for boyfriends, but Ray knows how to smooth talk a woman and he’s much older and wealthier. However, there’s something creepy about him. Jeremy has a more subtle charm and wit underneath his humbleness and average looks. Unfortunately, the clichéd, predictable plot gets worse as he finds a job working for a traveling rock-band. At that point, Mirabelle and Ray start dating. It would have been more engaging if Mirabelle and Jeremy shared more scenes together, especially because they are meant to be together. Danes and Schwartzman try their best to enliven the dull script with strong performances, but Martin’s bland, emotionless performance doesn’t help. There are nice shots of Mirabelle’s house from an overview among many others at night, which look like stars in the sky. The voice over by Martin lacks warmth and simply distracts from the plot’s flow.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Mirabelle’s dilemma raises the issue of superficiality in today’s society, especially when money can buy “love”. However, it can’t buy true love, romantic chemistry, or happiness. Distracted by superficial charms such as gifts and smooth talk, Mirabelle looks for love in the wrong places. Fortunately, there are sincere fish out there in the sea, but some of them, like Jeremy, are too humble to be instantly attracted to in a world full of deception.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable, clichéd plot.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Danes and Schwartzman give great performances and have plenty of chemistry between them, but a weak, formulaic script sinks the film into occasional blandness and mediocrity.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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