"Shopgirl" (2005)

“Shopgirl” (2005)

The opening credits appeared and I knew I’d love “Shopgirl” (2005) for its camera shots as the creative sequence goes right to product level of cosmetics.  From there, views of different areas and floors come into the picture and eventually bring a glimpse of shopgirl Mirabelle (Claire Danes).  She is approached by the camera, giving the perspective of a customer walking to her counter to pay for his or her items.

The movie also features a very enchanting effect as Mirabelle’s apartment skylight fades and becomes lost in the starry night sky.  It’s a way of showing how her situation in life, a desire for something more, is shared by many others throughout the city.  Later,  scenes cut back and forth between Jeremy and Ray both watching a football game from different places, as total opposite characters tied to the same girl.  It emphasizes the small world the three of them share even though the two men haven’t met to realize it.

Mirabelle is trying to make her way in life as an upcoming artist in Los Angeles.  She is someone that many can connect with as a meeting regarding her student loans brings home her struggle.  Alone in her life, she makes a move to advance her social surroundings after a chance encounter with Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) at the laundromat.  Mirabelle soon finds herself in a bit of a love triangle with two very different men.  Regardless of anyone’s relationship history and situations, the idea of searching for the perfect match is another aspect of Mirabelle’s life with which the film’s audience can connect.

I’ve been a fan of Danes for so long; one of the things that I love about her is the range of emotion in her expressions.  She is so amazing at showing emotion in her roles, from very happy with a vibrant smile to letting an extremely injured heart and feelings come out in the characters she plays.  For those reasons, it was easy to connect with her leading role as Angela in the TV show “My So-Called Life.”  This is one of those roles as Mirabelle experiences a few personal and relationship lows.

Jeremy also struggles with an artistic life, yet looks to be Mirabelle’s total opposite.  Despite his contrasting disheveled appearance, he’s a very likable guy because when he’s around Mirabelle, he has this quirkiness about him.  As he finds success and cleans up, he keeps that demeanor rather than becoming conceited.  His charm is constant and steady over time.

The only other movie I’ve seen Schwartzman in is “Marie Antoinette” (2006), as well as an episode of the TV show “Freaks and Geeks.”  His IMDB page also lists one of his acting credits as a cast member in this year’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” which I plan to get on DVD.  I think he’s very talented and look forward to catching more of the roles he’s been in and takes on in the future.

Ray Porter (Steve Martin), a suave and mysterious older man who has it all, steps into Mirabelle’s life.  He seems to be just one of the customers shopping in the department store’s formal department.  That is, until Mirabelle finds a surprise awaiting her return home from work.  As Jeremy is out on the road, Mirabelle is swept up in an affair with Ray that isn’t interpreted the same on both sides.

Speaking of Martin, who doesn’t love Martin from his comedic TV and movie work over the years?  This film, at least for me, showed another side of him because I haven’t seen him in other ones with a tone of life drama and romance.  The long-time talent who brings so many laughs was wonderful as the worldly, sophisticated man that takes Mirabelle’s heart.

The conclusion shows another instance of the starry night effect with Mirabelle’s skylight, bringing the story around full-circle.  Overall, the combination of the movie’s cast, cinematography and story line puts “Shopgirl” among my favorites of its genre.