featured screening: “Personal Shopper”

Short write-up this week, but I do want to highlight Oliver Assayas’ strange film from last year, Personal Shopper, which is screening at HFA tonight. It’s a film about grief, I suppose — it plays like a de Palma psychological thriller if de Palma were inspired by the iciness of Tarkovsky rather than the quickened pulse of Hitchcock. Kristen Stewart is quite good in a movie that works wells with her natural understatedness. She is a full-time personal shopper for a rich Parisian woman, and moonlights as a part-time medium-for-hire. Detached from her boyfriend and those around her, she becomes convinced that the text messages she is constantly receiving from what sounds like a stalker may be from her twin brother, who recently died.  The film’s pace is decidedly slow, but it ends up as one of the first movies I’ve seen that captures “haunted technology” in an artful way. The genre (which I think truly started with Ringu) has been largely a shallow one (the trailer for Unfriended could have, rightfully, ended the entire genre), but as more and more of the work and intimacy of our relationships is mediated through phone and computer screens, those will increasingly become the places where our friends reside and our fears arise.

Screening this week at the Harvard Film Archive at 7:00pm on Monday, March 19 as part of the series “Caught in the Net: The Early Internet in the Paranoid Imagination”.

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