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:: Shopgirl

Based on Steve Martin’s novel of the same name, some might associate this film with comedy. They would be mistaken. Shopgirl takes a sombre look at the complexities of relationships and the loneliness of single life. We are introduced to Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes) from Vermont, a lonely down-to-earth saleswoman stuck in the toffee nosed glove department of Saks 5th Avenue in bustling LA. A part time artist she longs for a more fulfilling life other than the one she shares with her cat in a dingy apartment in the city.

During a trip to the laundromat she meets the quirky Jeremy (Jason Schwarzman), also an artist, who helps her pass the time but who is decidedly wrong for her. Suggesting to use jiffy bags during sex when he mistakes a mint for a condom highlights his sheer desperation for intimacy and tinges the film with comic elements. It isn’t however until she meets the older, charming, Ray Porter, (Steve Martin) that her life is turned upside down and they develop a relationship with such a level of intensity which Porter never seems fully able to commit to. Martin is brilliant as the affluent charming-yet-distant Ray and is a far cry from the funnyman that we are used to seeing him portray. It is however his failure to commit to Mirabelle which leaves a hole in the plot of the film, as no real explanation is given for his doubt concerning the relationship, perhaps only the occasional hint at their difference in age. This is one of the film’s only flaws and it must be said that the way the relationship is explored is done so in a way which doesn’t patronise the audience by being sleazy or exploitative which easily could have been done, given the age gap between the two characters.

The film presents a real look at the raw and gritty problems people face when getting into serious relationships and the hurt they cause one another failing to be honest in their union.