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SHOPGIRL (director: Anand Tucker; screenwriter: screenplay and novella by Steve Martin; cinematographer: Peter Suschitzky; editor: David Gamble; music: Barrington Pheloung; cast: Steve Martin (Ray Porter), Claire Danes (Mirabelle Buttersfield), Jason Schwartzman (Jeremy), Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (Lisa Cramer), Sam Bottoms (Dan Buttersfield), Frances Conroy (Catherine Buttersfield), Mark Kozelek (Real-life singer of the Red House Painters). Rebecca Pidgeon (Christie Richards).; Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Steve Martin/Ashok Amritraj/Jon Jashni; Touchstone Pictures; 2005)
“A glum love story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A glum love story based on the 2001 novella by Steve Martin, who is also the writer, producer, narrator and star of this personal film not necessarily drawn from his own life. Anand Tucker (“Hilary and Jackie”/”Leap Year”) directs with great delicacy but without much depth. Martin’s narration is sour and over-used, and becomes increasingly tiresome. The romance follows the formula of Lost in Translation, of an older man with a younger woman and all the cliches of that bromide.

Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) is a grubby loud-mouth slacker, who creates fonts for a music amplifier company. At the launderette the lively young man meets Mirabelle (Claire Danes) and begins a questionable love relationship with her. She’s a former Vermonter, who is an aspiring artist leading a mundane life on the Left Coast. Mirabelle is unhappy working in Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills as a counter clerk, in the glove department. At work, the wealthy middle-aged smoothie, Ray Porter (Steve Martin), with luxury homes in LA and Seattle, and a private jet, hits on her and they begin a sexual only relationship. He gives her expensive gifts and pays off her student loan, but to her chagrin never says he loves her.

We observe how these three approach a relationship through their dreams, their empty urban lives and their loneliness. In reality, the observations are superficial. The vulnerable Mirabelle just wants to find love and needs chemicals for her depression. The smug Martin just can’t commit to love. And the misfit Jeremy needs to act like an adult. Meanwhile Martin’s lechery is viewed as merely the way life sometimes goes in the real world. The film is seen through Martin’s POV, who seems more like a jerk than a nice guy.

Bridgette Wilson-Sampras plays the gold-digger co-worker of Danes, whose crude antics lead one to believe she’s in the wrong movie. REVIEWED ON 4/11/2017 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”