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3.6 out of 5 stars40
3.6 out of 5 stars
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I'm at something of a loss as to how to go about reviewing this particular movie. There's really no pigeon-holing Shopgirl, as it's just an odd mixture of drama and romance. It's definitely not heavy on comedy, so you'll need to look elsewhere if you want Steve Martin to make you laugh. Somehow managing to be both superficial and introspective, this film easily drew me in, but I never really felt comfortable in this world of lovers and choices. For me, there's just something unsettling about the whole thing; it plays like a special romantic episode of The Twilight Zone.

You've got to hand it to Steve Martin, though; besides writing the novella upon which the film is based (as well as the actual screenplay) and starring in the film, he gets to spend some quality romantic time with the always-enchanting Claire Danes. Good work, my friend. I think it is this May-November (I don't think Steve Martin quite deserves the December label just yet) relationship that bothers me a little bit, though - not that there's anything wrong with it. It's the nature of this specific relationship that I find troubling, for plot-related reasons it would be uncouth of me to reveal in a review.

This whole story really revolves around Claire Danes' character, Mirabelle Buttersfield. She's a young woman whose dreams of a fresh new start in L.A. have settled down into a life of boredom and disappointment. Selling gloves at Saks isn't exactly fulfilling, nor does it pay enough to start making a dent on all if Mirabelle's student loans. Not only is she lonely enough to go out with a really weird, grungy, hairy "artist," she's lonely enough to actually call him up after their first undeniably boring date. The young man, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), is smitten with her, of course, but he is soon replaced by a new man in Mirabelle's life - a man more than old enough to be her father. Ray Porter (Steve Martin) is charming and safe, which allows him to win our young salesgirl's affection rather easily. Unfortunately, the nature of that relationship comes to differ in the minds of Ray and Mirabelle, and that is the emotional lever upon which this distinctive story hinges. Ultimately, Mirabelle faces a bona fide life-changing decision. It's much more than a simple romantic choice between two very different men, as it leads to a whole new direction in Mirabelle's life.

I liked this movie, but I'm still not sure just how much I liked it. The superficiality of the characters creates several plot points that took place too quickly and with no contextual support, and the whole thing invoked a number of private Why? questions in my mind. That makes this film less emotionally compelling than it could have been, yet I still found Shopgirl captivating in a way I can't completely understand.
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Adapted by Steve Martin from his novella of the same name, `Shopgirl' seems to me a tad overlooked and a companion to `Secretary' - sadly more people are willing to watch silly Steve Martin movies like `Cheaper By the Dozen' & `The Pink Panther.' As longtime admirers of Martin will note, he has often been excellent in `straight' roles such as those in `Grand Canyon', `L.A. Story' (his `Manhattan') , `Novocaine' & David Mamet's Hitchcockian `The Spanish Prisoner.' As he adapted his own novella, Martin pictured Dustin Hoffmann in the role of Ray Porter, but as time marched on it became apparent he was the ideal candidate for the unlikeable character.

The `Shopgirl' of the title is Mirabelle Butterfield, played by Claire Danes who looks a lot like the character of Angela Chase from the seminal TV-series `My So-Called Life' in which she starred (watch out for the scene in the DVD shop where you see DVDs of `My So-Called Life' and `Saturday Night Live'!) Part of me watching the world of Mirabelle felt as if you were watching Angela several years on, when things began not to work out in the adult world. Mirabelle is a lonely girl who sells gloves in Saks Department Store with a vast student loan, a life shared with a cat, artistic aspirations she can't quite develop, and a dependency on anti-depressants. She meets Jeremy (the excellent Jason Schwartzman - `Rushmore' & `Marie Antoinette') who comes across as a stoner loser, but will do in the meantime - their initial coupling is unromantic stuff, a simple prop to occupy her time. Meanwhile Mirabelle sells a set of female gloves to Ray Porter, who it turns out, has purchased them for her. Porter is rich, living in two homes in a sterile penthouse luxury, Mirablle, another prop to occupy his time.

To say more would spoil the movie, a film that does show a darker side, from Porter's cold world (one scene where he watches her try on a designer dress reminded me of `Vertigo'), to Mirabelle's dependency on anti-depressants. Unlike the lame `Garden State', this film shows that there is a negative to going cold turkey on anti-depressants. The subplot including the Hot Tears on the road is excellent, the lead singer is played by former Red House Painter/current Sun Kil Moon leader Mark Kozelek, a charming mentor who should have been on screen a lot more (Kozelek advances on his small roles in Cameron Crowe's `Almost Famous' & `Vanilla Sky'). The band even have former Low-bassplayer Zak Sally in their line-up - shame there wasn't more of them on the road, and is it me, or should Jeremy & Mirabelle crossed paths in New York? (That's where I thought the plot was leading...) Nice to hear Sun Kil Moon's classic `Carry Me Ohio' in the soundtrack, though the director should have had the guts to play all of it as we took in the lead characters' worlds. It should be noted that the cinematography is fantastic, having moments that feel magical, and plenty of shots you could lose yourself in. & the dénouement is charming stuff...a film to brighten the day, `Shopgirl' deserves an audience, an anti-`Pretty Woman' for our time. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2007
I think this film may have slight delusions of grandeur, but it's still nice to watch. The characters are well-played, and it's nice to see personalities that aren't Hollywood perfect and 'normal'. Jason Swartzman is very funny, and lends the film a bit of the 'indie' spirit and weirdness I think it's going for. The voiceover by Martin though is trite and annoying, and almost ruined the ending for me, so maybe try to ignore it.
The central message, being the importance of true love, isn't original exactly, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded of these things.
It's worth watching. :)
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Shopgirl is an engaging character piece that's shot with imagination and compassion and, while offering an inevitable and predictable ending still manages to leave you wondering just how it's going to get there. It's a gentle loving film that cares about its characters even while it concentrates on their flaws, and is graced by three strong performances: a very appealing Clare Danes, a wonderful slacker turn from Jason Schwartzman who finds great touches that aren't in the script (thank the lord that Jimmy Fallon dropped out!) and a very generous one from Steve Martin, who never hogs the limelight but keeps his distance while quietly drawing out his character's emotional limitations. Aside from its surprisingly strong visual sense and impressive use of the Scope frame, it's also great on the little throwaway details that cause the deepest pain in relationships - the key breakup is caused by a unthinking joke that is only insensitive in view of the characters' past history. There's also a fine use of third person narration by author Martin, used only at four points in the movie to illuminate desires and concepts that can't be comfortably fitted in as dialog or scenes that adds to the sad awareness of the piece. A very pleasant and engaging surprise.
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on 28 June 2007
There are a lot of reviews for this film and a lot of them seem somewhat unfair.
Perhaps if this film has been advertised as a rom/com then one may feel that they have been misled. If this is the case then I would understand that there may be some grievance with the way the film has been show cased.
However, the film itself lacks nothing. If you believe that in order for a film to be romantic and have humour you must see cutesy blonde running into a window, sliding to the floor only to then be picked up by some Hollywood pretty boy, then I'll agree this is not for you.

This is a wonderful heart aching love story; it combines real characters with genuine feeling. At times very funny, sweet and often moving, what makes this film refreshing is that the sadness, gentleness and humour are sentiments we have no doubt experienced at one time or another. This is not cue laughter material, it is much more than that.
If you're looking at your life and wondering what beauty you have missed, if you are just getting there and trying to work it out, if you have ever experience unrequited love then you will understand what this wonderful film is about.
This is a slow passed, character enhanced story, with a fabulous cast and a beautifully haunting soundtrack.
Steve Martin, I thank you. Shopgirl, I will cherish you.
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on 16 September 2006
An incredible movie -its strengths come from the simple honesty with which the story was told. I think this simplicity has perhaps been misunderstood by some of those rating it poorly. Yes, there is so little of the usual hollywood signposting that sometimes you wonder about the background of the characters or other details, but taken for what it is -a story of two very different relationships experienced by the central character, it is incredibly moving. The emotional experience of the viewer following this story is only heightened by the straight-forward and honest presentation of Mirabelles relationships in contrast to so many films which distance the viewer with excessive sentiment and unreal romanticism. But despite the reality, expect a gentle ride due to the beautiful cinematography, set & costume design.
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on 5 November 2007
This was a film worth watching for Claire Danes performance but the overall story wasn't too compelling because the character of Jeremy was just too uninteresting.This was a showcase for a beautiful and talented actress and I can only conclude that when Steve Martin wrote the novella on which the film was based that he put most of his energy into developing Mirabelle's character and very little into Ray Porter's and
Jeremy's (ray porter is basically just the steve martin you see in most of his films from years ago but in Shopgirl Martin looks as old as the male characters in the film seem lazy and tired).
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on 1 June 2013
This is a very sweet, sometimes surprising story about twenty-something Mirabelle who feels lost and alone in the big city. She is an aspiring artist who works in Saks Fifth Avenue selling gloves. I would have liked to see more of her work-life, I think it would have added another dimension to the movie. She meets young, quirky, frankly idiotic, Jeremy in the laundromat and starts a half-hearted relationship with him. Then she meets Ray Porter, a wealthy, much older business man and falls in love. Personally I found it hard to believe that beautiful, talented Mirabelle would settle for either Ray or Jeremy.

ShopGirl is based on the book of the same name by Steve Martin. It is a nice story and I can understand why he wanted to take one of the lead roles. The problem is he is simply too old to be Mirabelle's older lover. Even Richard Gere looked too old next to Winona Ryder in "Autumn in New york" so Martin had no hope of pulling it off. It's not that he isn't nice looking or charming but he looks more like Mirabelle's grandad than lover. The sex scenes are thankfully limited to Mirabelle throwing her head back in ecstasy. Martin never seems to undo a button. I also find the whole idea of the older lovers always being successful businessmen treating their younger, trophy girlfriends to glamorous dresses and nights out slightly disturbing. No matter how nice the female character they end up looking like hookers. This is reinforced by the manipulative character of Lisa, who works on the cosmetic counter and is determined to land herself a wealthy lover.

Mirabelle is beautifully played by Claire Danes who is the best thing in the whole movie. This is probably a good choice for a girls night in but I can't see many men enjoying this film.
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on 10 June 2011
A lonely shop assistant in the glove department of a posh store has romantic entanglements with two men. One rich and distant, the other poor and eccentric.

Steve Martin is a good writer. He wrote many of the scripts for his comedy movies. He has also done other non-comic writing. His memoir of his stand-up career is very good and his novel An Object of Beauty, about the artworld, was also very solid. This film, which he wrote the screenplay for, is based on a novella of his that I've not read.

I'm wary of any short stories or novellas that get turned into movies. If it only took between 20 to 100 pages to tell the story then why does the film version need 90 minutes or more? Shopgirl has a very slim story. The film could have covered the very generic and unimaginative story, without rushing, in about 30 minutes.

The film is slow. I'm usually very restless and unforgiving with slow movies. The film was engaging me well enough so I didn't have a problem with it. It wasn't until about an hour in that I started to think it was taking too long to get to the point. I watched about twenty minutes of it at x2 speed to get it moving, but reverted to normal speed for the end. It's a slow movie, and I can easily imagine many viewers losing their patience with it.

The characters are very sketchily drawn, and mostly quirk and personality free. They have nothing to say to each other, and for a dialogue heavy movie that isn't a good thing. Basically they are boring people who spend the whole film having bland, awkward, stop start conversations that fail to gather any natural momentum. What saves the film, I suppose, is that I know how good Steve Martin and Jason Schwartzmen are, and so I had faith that it was probably mostly a stylistic decision and not just bad writing and acting.

Not a lot happens. No profound insights into relationships or loneliness are given. After 100 minutes you will probably be wondering why this film was made? The obvious answer is because it was small scale and that Steve Martin is famous and he wanted to make it. It's not the worst reason in the world for its existence, and I don't consider it to be a waste of my time having watched it as I've seen much worse. If Stanley Kubrick had made it many people would be calling it a masterpiece (it's certainly much better and substantial than Eyes Wide Shut).

It's an average movie with a slow pace, thinly created characters and almost no plot. I wouldn't recommend it, but then again I wouldn't warn against it. It's not boring and it does have some sort of curious charm to it.
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on 16 July 2006
I read the book written by Steve Martin in 2002 and found it to be very good, i was worried that the film adaptation may not be true to the book, but it was , Steve Martin is excellent playing one of his own characters and Claire Danes makes an excellent Mirabelle with the insecurity and vulnerability of the original character, her young boyfriend is excellent too. It is very well filmed, a really good film !
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