Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Movie: Shopgirl

Shopgirl was based on a novella written by Steve Martin, who also stars in the movie as Ray Porter, an older gentleman who woos the heroine, Mirabelle. It's a sort of character study, I guess, less than a romance.

It starts with Mirabelle in her job as glove sales clerk at Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. We learn she is from Vermont and she aspires to be an artist. She meets Jeremy at the laundromat - he's an artist (of fonts and silk screen logos) as well, and I guess he's attracted to her although he's so clumsy about it, it's hard to say. He takes her out; they go to her apartment and again clumsily make love. Not "again make love" but "again clumsy". Then he gets an offer to travel with a band - and pretty abruptly leaves town. He does call Mirabelle to see if she'll go out with him one last time but by this time, she's met Ray and turns Jeremy down.

Ray is - according to Netflix revues - 35 years older than Mirabelle. He wines, dines and beds her - he buys her expensive clothes - he even pays off her college loans. But he keeps emotional and physical distance - he actually lives mostly in Seattle, flying in to LA from time to time. We learn through his discussion with someone else - perhaps a psychiatrist? or friend? - that he has made it clear to her that he only wants her companionship, at dinner and in bed mainly. I think he might have said that - in the dialog - but then we hear her tell her friends pretty much the opposite. So she didn't get it.

While on the road, Jeremy listens to self-help audio, which apparently helps him figure out what he wants from Mirabelle and from life. Meanwhile, Ray pretty much lets Mirabelle know the truth: he will buy her things, and sleep with her, but nothing more. It's hard for her to grasp because in so many ways he shows her he does love her, and he does go out of his way to spend time with her. But then he sleeps with someone else, writes a letter about it and gives it to her to read in front of him. He mentions getting an apartment in NYC so that he doesn't need to get a hotel for trips there; then he says he plans to get a 3-bedroom in case he meets someone he wants to settle down with and have kids with. I thought maybe he was making a joke, but apparently he wasn't - he meant it, and now I think he meant it to hurt or distance himself from Mirabelle even more. These things seem to have been done on purpose because he realizes she's getting under his skin and he needs to push her away. So she ends it right then, deciding to hurt now rather than later.

Jeremy runs into Mirabelle when he gets back - he's sorta cleaned up and he isn't quite as clumsy -well, he is but whatever. So hey, she gets back with Jeremy. There is a scene early on where Mirabelle listens to a late night talk show radio program where the woman describes "afterglow" for women and what positions the man and woman take after making love, and how they are interpreted. After Jeremy returns and they make love again - for the 2nd time - the narrative lets us know that Jeremy manages to give Mirabelle what she is looking for, and they show them asleep, after making love, lying entwined on the bed in one of the positions that manages to convey tenderness - a sort of spoon position, with his arm across her body, their hands touching.

Somehow - describing it - and reading reviews, it didn't sound that great. But I was touched, and saddened, by the ending when Ray admits to her he did love her after all, in his own way, and we are led to believe that she is still happier with Jeremy even knowing that Ray loves her. and Ray is left alone, bereft, because he is unable to show love. So there's a HEA for Jeremy and Mirabelle, and Ray is left behind. It was sad, and maybe I'd give it 4 stars but I don't want to see it again.

I read that same 1st page in MacBeth The King again today, several times, and then listened to DIA some more while making cookies and rescuing baby owls.

No comments: