Get Reel Movies had the chance to see Personal Shopper at the 41st Toronto International Film Festival and after the film we sent guest reviewer Josh Rachlis to talk to director of the film, Oliver Assayas. It was a roundtable interview with different media outlets so below are Josh’s questions.
I noticed that there was no humour at all in the movie. I didn’t laugh at all. Which is interesting. Was that a deliberate choice, to make it very dark?
Assayas: No, it’s allowed to… I mean, you know… I think my movies usually have a sense of humour, but I think it’s a peculiar sense of humour and people just don’t get it. But I think a lot of things in these movies are kind of tongue in cheek. And you don’t have to read it that way. I had fun shooting the Victor Hugo TV movie (a movie within the movie, which Kristen Stewart watches to learn about seances). But no, it’s not a comedy in the way that Clouds of Sils Maria is a comedy. Clouds of Sils Maria has open comedy moments, similar to the scene where – you don’t have to laugh there – but with the model who has the gorilla foundation. We were having fun on the set. But you can take it seriously, right, you know? If you like gorillas, you will take them seriously. But this is a movie about mourning, about communicating with the dead. It’s about someone who’s going through a bad time in her life. So yeah, it’s going to be a bit darker, certainly, than other movies I’ve made.
I really liked the aspect of the texting. Usually in movies people call, but in real life, who uses the phone? But she was webcamming with her boyfriend, which was a neat juxtaposition with the old ghost videos. But were you concerned at all that in a couple of years, it might be dated?
Assayas: But the past does not vanish. It’s still there. We live in a present that is defined by the past. A lot of the past is still around, even inside ourselves. We are not just the person who we are at this moment. We are also the person we were 5, 10, 15 years ago. So I like the juxtaposition, but I think that is ultimately what defines reality in many ways.
I felt like the city of Paris was almost like a character in the movie. The apartments and the streets. Would you say Paris is your muse as much as Kristen Stewart is?
Assayas: Yes, in the sense that it had been ages since I had shot Paris. Because I had been making those period films, I could not show the city as it is, the modern city of Paris. I had done a lot of that in my earlier films and at some point I just got fed up, so I thought it would be boring. But when I started shooting Personal Shopper I actually enjoyed filming Paris. I enjoyed using wide lenses and showing as much as I could of it. In a way, to inscribe this story in the modern energy of Paris. And by the way, we shot those scenes 5 days before the terrorist attacks. 5 days later, they would not even have allowed us to film in the streets of Paris. It became much more important that I had imagined initially.
Personal Shopper comes out in limited theaters across Canada, Friday, March 24th. Also check out our guest reviewer @JoshRachlis on Twitter and Facebook