Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movie Review: "Shopgirl"

Last night my wife and I finally got around to watching Shopgirl, based on Steve Martin's novella of the same title. This is one of those movies that we had planned on seeing when it hit theaters, but with two little kids, those hopeful intentions aren't always realized. In fact, unless it's a movie for kids (like the recent Ratatouille) or a big action movie that we think won't translate well to television (like the Harry Potter films), we usually just wait until they hit Netflix or Blockbuster. And in the end, most films aren't good enough to warrant the $11 ticket price and $50-$60 on a baby sitter.

Shopgirl was extremely well done, from the acting and cinematography to the score. (Watching the DVD extras after finishing Shopgirl, we learned that the entire color scheme of the film was based on the flow of the relationships in the story. It obviously made a difference in the visual quality of the film.) Claire Danes was luminous - as always - and Steve Martin, as his character demanded, proved atypically reserved and detached. It would be easy to label Shopgirl as "just another good date movie." No doubt it would serve ably in that role for an audience of twenty-somethings or fans of Jason Schwartzman and his turn in Rushmore. Nor is the story a classic May-December romance. Indeed, the age issue doesn't really play a role in the romantic relationships. Shopgirl is more about the nature of romantic relationships and the ways in which we process the emotions - including love - attendant in those liaisons.

Understand that the story flowed from the pen of Martin, and thus carries an emotional gravitas that reflects its origins. In fact, wanting more of the depth of the original story, my wife and I both wouldn't mind reading the novella, which doubtless reveals more detail vis-a-vis character development. Then I think we should watch the film again and see how Martin's screenplay compares to the novella. If you haven't seen Shopgirl, check it out. It's a perfect movie for a glass of wine and a good friend. And yes, even a date.


One Wink at a Time said...

I have had Shopgirl on my list of "maybe" movies to see. On your recommendation, I will make it a definite. I really like Claire and have had a love affair going with Steve for like, forever. I haven't seen much of Mr. Schwartzman other than (whatever that was, something other than Rushmore) but I hear that this is kind of a stretch for him.

One Wink at a Time said...

Footnote: I picked up my friend, Kate's copy of Shopgirl over the weekend and read part of the first chapter, just to get a feel for Steve's writing style. I wasn't disappointed.