Shopgirl (2005) Directed by Anand Tucker. With Claire Danes, Steve Martin and Jason Schwartzman.
Based on a novella by comedy actor Steve Martin, Shopgirl is a drama/comedy that explores the complexities of a love triangle between three very different Los Angeles residents.
The three in question are Mirabelle (Claire Danes) , a fed-up department store sales assistant, Ray (Steve Martin) , a wealthy businessman and Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) an artist/drifter. What quickly becomes apparent with Shopgirl is that this isn’t your standard rom-com. Sure, it has laugh cards up it’s sleeve but by and large, this is something that’s aiming to be higher than just ‘run of the mill’.
In the central ‘shopgirl’ role, Clare Danes is a likeable lead. However, what’s slightly puzzling is how a beautiful and affable young woman with a job and her own place in a vibrant city like Los Angeles is so lonely and adrift. Her knights in shining armour come in the form of Ray and Jeremy. Two opposite ends of the scale, the men offer Mirabelle a way out of her bored existence.
Of the three performances, sadly the one that fails to register is Steve Martin’s. Known for his many roles in comedy farce, Martin struggles to inhabit the ‘Mr Big’ role with any real believability. Even despite his wealth, it’s just difficult to see Mirabelle falling for his character, which is a shame. Casting another actor – possibly someone younger – might have worked better , but with Martin being so close to the material as both author and screenwriter, it’s not hard to imagine why he might have wanted to play the character.
In the main, Shopgirl is an interesting film that aims to step outside the bubble of your average rom-com. It manages to succeed thanks to an offbeat brand of humour and a more old fashioned style. Some of the direction is overly self-indulgent and use of music comes across portentous but mainly thanks to Danes, the film’s characters are curious enough to make you want to stay the course. The glove fits…just. 3/5