Any movie that pits the average and not so successful guy against the rich and attractive guy usually concludes with a cliché-filled fantasy ending. Steve Martin takes every girl’s fantasy of finding that tall, dark and successful man who can sweep her off to a happy ending, and shows the harsh realities of what could go wrong. The Beatles said it best. All you need is…
Shopgirl is adapted from Steve Martin’s best selling novel of the same title. The plot follows the complacent and lonely Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes) throughout her search for love and a life worth living. She spends her days selling gloves at a Los Angeles Saks Fifth Avenue; actually not selling gloves because no one looks or buys. She moved from Vermont to find her future and instead found student loans and a job without potential. Lonely and discouraged she agrees to a date with someone she most likely wouldn’t see herself with, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman). Aimless and hopelessly unromantic Jeremy finds a way to leave an impression on Mirabelle, even if the impression isn’t exactly a positive one.
The day that Ray Porter (Steve Martin) walked into Saks and bought a pair of black gloves was the day the Mirabelle’s life changed. After finding the same gloves and a dinner invitation, Mirabelle agrees to dinner with Ray. Ray shows Mirabelle that he is a successful, caring and comfortable person with whom to be in a relationship. The expectations that each have for their futures are slightly different however, and it is inevitable that someone will get hurt. Jeremy takes some early advice from Mirabelle and decides to get his life together and show her that even though he has shortcomings, he could provide the most important things in life, love and companionship.
I have not had a chance to read the novel, but I hear that the translation from page to screen is incredibly close. This movie is reminiscent of Pretty Woman, minus the prostitutes, in the way that it takes an average girl from her average surroundings and places her in the arms of a highly successful man who is willing to provide for her. That is exactly where the comparison ends. In the real world, most men in that situation would not want to risk their wealth or reputation on another person from a completely different social or economic standing. And in the case of this film, Ray Porter only wants one thing and it is not the same thing that Mirabelle wants. This very real look at relationships and self centeredness in today’s environment is honest and sincere. While the character of Ray is selfish and doesn’t really care for Mirabelle in a true way, the characters are all lovable and easily empathized for. The story is unconventional, but honest and original — rarely seen in films lately.
The DVD features commentaryis from only director Anand Tucker, which is odd due to the fact that the novel and screenplay were written by one of the film’s leads, Steve Martin. I would much have rather heard Steve Martin’s perspective throughout the film. The DVD includes a feature which explores the transformation from novella to film that was very insightful. Other than the features, the audio in this film was supported by instrumental music that perfectly matched the tone of the film. I wouldn’t call this a romantic comedy, date movie, drama or comedy. This film fails to find a conventional genre due to its unconventional plot. If anything I would call it a story about life, love and heartache.
Jason Schwartzman provides some excellent comic relief in this film, where you would normally expect that from Steve Martin.
Seemed to have a hint of pretentiousness.
On The Side:
When Jeremy and Luther are turning on the fun at Best Buy, the very first shot has a visual joke. On the DVD racks are row after row of DVD sets for “My So-Called Life” and “Saturday Night Live.”
Breaking Down the DVD:
The Film: B+
The Delivery: C+
The Extras: C
Final Grade: B-
Release Date: April 25th, 2006
Starring: Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman
Directed by: Anand Tucker
Writing Credits: Steve Martin (novel & screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
MPAA: Rated R for some sexual content and brief language.
Run Time: 106 min.
Studio: Touchstone / Disney
By Brian Gibson, Associate Editor of Film School Rejects