Scrawled notes left on a counter. Unkept promises. Routes you might have taken had you been anyone but yourself; others attempted, blocked by barriers you didn’t even know were there. That thought which felt so sturdy inside, only to evaporate in the space between utterance and impact. Bouncing dots on an iPhone screen, spooky action at a distance signifying real thumbs on real glass, abruptly vanishing and reappearing like a pulse till suddenly: words. Gray, motionless, cold. Information. All of the “meaning” with none of the dance.
We’re all haunted by something. In the wonderful Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas’ lead is haunted by her own past — by a beauty and liveliness that can’t last forever, can’t simply be conjured back into existence by virtue of acting it out. In Personal Shopper, she’s haunted by everyone else; by a failure to connect, or a desire to become, or both. Sometimes that takes the form of a letter, a text message, a whisper of grief or rote transaction in a posh fashion boutique. Sometimes it’s a literal ghost materializing in frame. This film is best entered blind, so I don’t want to ruin much by way of exposition. All I’ll say is it’s an enigmatic ride in the best possible way: there are crescendos of magical realism which absolutely floored me, and questions brought up which I’m not sure I’ll ever resolve. Assayas’ direction is excellent, his mood-building is confident and on-point, and Kristen Stewart gives yet another captivating performance. See this movie.
Or, at least, listen to Chris and me struggle to unpack it in this week’s episode.