Shopgirl (2005)

Based on Steve Martin's novella of the same name, this film delivers like a short story. It doesn't once steer away from it's subject, the shopgirl's need for love.

Mirabelle is a very lonely, depressed, far from home, winsome, artistic, beautiful woman living in Los Angeles. This results in her receptiveness when two very unlikely candidates make advances: a young thoughtless slob and an rich, uncommitting man 20 years her senior. We watch as the two men manoeuver their way in and out of her love life and as she hurts and recovers.

All of the acting is superb. Claire Danes speaks more with her eyes than with her voice. Jason Schwartzman, a favorite of mine, keeps the movie light and serves his character with fabulous gusto. Steve Martin is subdued, a pleasant change for the normally "wild and crazy guy."

Stylistically, the makers of the film seem determined to ensure every frame of the film could double as an effective photograph. The sharp contrasts, composition and rich colour palettes nurture riveted viewers. The pans up from windows to the stars that turn into other people's windows are done seamlessly and almost too well - I was distracted a bit by how smooth they made it look.

Love is the mystery that isn't so mysterious. It has always been about self-sacrifice, about commitment. This film reinforces that fact and reminds us once again that we all need to love and be loved in return.


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