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Twenty-something native Vermonter Mirabelle Buttersfield, having recently graduated from college, is finding her new life in Los Angeles not quite what she was expecting or hoping. An aspiring artist, she is barely eking out a living working as a clerk at the women's evening gloves counter at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills and thus she can barely make the payments on her massive student loans. She treats her job with a certain distance, often daydreaming as she watches the life of the rich as they shop at the store. She has made no friends, including from among her Saks colleagues, and thus lives a solitary existence, which does not assist in her dealing with her chronic clinical depression. So it is with some surprise that two men with a romantic interest in her enter her life almost simultaneously. The first is poor slacker Jeremy, who works as an amplifier salesman/font designer. Mirabelle continues dating Jeremy as only a relief to her solitary life, as Jeremy doesn't seem to ... Written by
Steve Martin had Tom Hanks in mind to play Ray Porter, but as the film's development progressed, he felt he was better suited to play the part since he was so familiar with the work. See more »
In the scene where Mirabelle is at her parents home in Vermont and takes a phone call from Ray, the camera cuts to a shot of her mother sitting at the dining room table. Behind her mother, green, leafy trees are visible through the windows, even though everything outside the house was covered in snow when Mirabelle first entered the house. See more »
"Shopgirl", the magnificent novella by Steve Martin, finally arrives as a movie that expands on the text, as Anand Tucker, its director, demonstrates. Steve Martin also adapted his own story, which works well with the movie version since he knows what he wants to say and how to present the story in cinematic terms.
This film is about how sometimes a man, who evidently is a successful business person, can't see what he does to a woman who, in spite of the warnings, has fallen deeply in love with him. Ray Porter, is an egotistical man, incapable of expressing his emotions unless they are in the form of material things. Ray is an empty man who can buy whoever he wants to be with, but who demands there will be no strings attached to any sort of relationship.
Mirabelle, the young gloves sales lady at Los Angeles' Saks 5th Ave., is a lonely girl who has relocated to the city from Vermont. It's hard for anyone in that environment to connect with people, especially in a place like L.A. where no one talks to one another and everyone seems to be impressed with celebrities that are to be seen everywhere. Mirabelle is destined to a life of loneliness until two men appear at about the same time, the goofy Jeremy, and Ray Porter.
Jeremy likes Mirabelle in his own crazy way. Mirabelle responds to him because he means easy companionship without complications. When Ray appears on the scene, Mirabelle has no clue about what she is getting in for. Before anything, Ray makes it clear he wants no commitment, and no attachment. It's just a convenient situation for him as he has calculated that Mirabelle is perhaps a sexual diversion, at best. He finally reveals what he really has in mind when he tells the girl his intentions for the New York apartment, something that he hasn't included her in, at all.
This bittersweet story comes alive because of Claire Danes great performance as Mirabelle. Ms. Danes is perfectly cast as Mirabelle. Steve Martin's characterization as Ray Porter, is superb in his take about this man. Mr. Martin clearly understands what this man is really like and what makes him tick. Both these actors contribute to making their characters feel real.
On the other hand, the goofy performance from Jason Schartzman is distracting from the other story. The best sequence involves the beautiful Bridgette Wilson in thinking Jeremy is the real Ray Porter.
The excellent cinematography by Peter Suschitzky gives "Shopgirl" a sophisticated look that goes perfectly with the story being told. Anand Tucker directed with elegance and a sure hand making the film a winner.
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