.

Shopgirl

Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson, Frances Conroy

Directed by Anand Tucker
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
October 20, 2005

Some audiences are just never going to cotton to a screen romance that has Steve Martin, 60, getting it on with Claire Danes, 26. To which I say: Grow up, people. The May-December thing worked in Lost in Translation and it works here, thanks to the perceptive and gracefully romantic script that Martin has adapted from his novella. This is not the wild-and-crazy Martin of Bringing Down the House, this is the Martin who writes for The New Yorker with erudition and wit. OK, you've been warned. For those still interested, we'll move on.

Martin, in a sharp, subtle performance, plays Ray Porter — possessed of charm, intelligencend millions from an L.A. computer business that allows him to indulge his taste for art and sex. There is something courtly but detached about Ray that may have factored into his divorce. And the fact that Martin is probably writing about himself won't be lost on alert viewers.

Ray is first attracted to Vermont transplant and aspiring artist Mirabelle Buttersfield (Danes) when he sees her selling gloves at Saks. The pristine setting — Mirabelle standing amidst uncluttered elegance — is clearly a turn-on for Ray, who seems to prefer things untouched by human hands.

As yet, Ray doesn't know about Mirabelle's messy, age-appropriate relationship with Jeremy (a very funny Jason Schwartzman, who functions as the film's broadly comic relief). But even when he does find out, Ray isn't flustered. Mirabelle wears her emotions more openly. She aspires to Ray's sophistication. Mistakenly, she also thinks she can cut through his veneer. Danes, on a roll with Stage Beauty, Igby Goes Down and the upcoming Family Stone, gives her best performance yet. It's through her that Ray's character is truly defined. He doesn't see what he's missing by keeping Mirabelle at a distance, but we do in the light of Danes' luminosity and spirit.

What's intuitive filmmaking, and director Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) deserves credit for letting us catch Mirabelle in and out of Ray's pumpkin shell. If Ray's world seems hermetically sealed — Peter Suschitzky's cinematography is cannily sleek — that's because it's the source of his comfort and his sorrow. Even the film's missteps (the score, by Barrington Pheloung, is cringe-inducing) can't stop this meditation on love — Martin calls it "Jane Austen for the twenty-first century" — from melting into heartbreak.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com