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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Literature > Shopgirl



Picture: B-†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: B†††† Film: B



Steve Martin is so underappreciated it is amazing.Yes, he has made a commercial comeback in films like Bringing Down The House and the Pink Panther revival, but he has also taken risks over and over that he never got credit for.One issue has this idea from the public at large that comic actors need to be funny all the time, as if they are only good for being clowns.This has bred the ugly idea of all artists being worthless and only good for mere entertainment value by the Religious Right or Politically Correct Left, who are threatened by anyone who can express themselves beyond shallowness, oversimplifying and anger.An early Martin triumph over this idiocy was Herbert Rossí remarkable adaptation of Dennis Potterís Pennies From Heaven, the deconstructionist Musical back in 1981.Now, from Martinís own novella, comes Shopgirl.


The story involves young Mirabelle (a new high for Claire Danes) selling gloves and the like at a high-class clothing and accessories chain.She is just trying to make ends meet, handle her massive college loans and hoping not to see things become worse.One day, a charming older man named Ray (Martin) shows up to buy a pair of gloves.Later, it is she who receives them!Turns out he is interested in her, despite being much older.At the same time, she meets the wacky and off-kilter Jeremy (a winning performance by Jason Schwartzman) who likes her but is still too much of an emotionally and psychologically inept slacker to meet her needs.At least his heart is in the right place.This film tells their stories and how theyíre lives cross each otherís paths.


Director Anand Tucker does a truly masterful job bringing their lives and the space it inhabits to life.Obviously, the acting and camera talent is top rate, but you still have to have a director who knows what he is doing (Tucker is far too modest to a big fault on what a director does on the commentary) with a true love of cinema apparent just from seeing the film.The classics he loves give him better inspiration than most directors who sites the high caliber of filmmaking he does.Danes is brave and bold in how she puts womanhood on screen in the most uncompromising way, which only gets you more and more involved in the film.Though some items might be predictable, the film is so real so often that those moments are palpable gems.Shopgirl is the kind of film about adulthood by adults that is deeply honest about the human condition.This is a beautiful, smart film and one of the most underrated of 2005, as well as the last few years.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in Panavision by the great Peter Suschitzky, but Video Black is sometimes weak as are finer details, so the transfer does not do the job of capturing how great this film really looks.However, it has its moments.The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is dialogue-based and on the quiet side considering the type of film it is.The combination will do, but it will take Blu-ray to really do justice to the depth and detail in the image and some subtly smart nuances in the sound.Extras include the usual Disney previews, some deleted scenes that could have stayed in the film, an outstanding audio commentary track by director Tucker and making of featurette (21:43) Evolution Of A Novella.I hope this disc gives the film the big audience it deserves to the point that more extras are called for.Donít miss this one!



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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