Shopgirl Review

With a tagline like, “relationships don’t always fit like a glove,” one can assume Steve Martin’s “Shopgirl” to be a problematic film. Starring Claire Danes as Mirabelle Buttersfield, a Vermonter-moved-West-in-search-of-fame, who spends her days wearing cute 1950s inspired dresses, standing behind the counter of the glove department in Los Angeles’ Saks Fifth Avenue. After work, Mirabelle settles into her mundane apartment to work on her charcoal drawings, which she hopes will bring her artistic success one day.

Early in the film she meets professional stencil man, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), at the laundrymat where they attempt a witty and awkward conversation. Lonely Mirabelle agrees to a date with spunky Jeremy which turns out to be a visit to the fluorescent lights of “City Walk” at Universal Studios.

Mirabelle and Jeremy’s courtship continues slowly through mild miscommunications until one day when middle-aged Ray Porter (Steve Martin) sets foot into the enchanted glove department. He purchases a pair from Mirabelle and saunters off, seemingly gone from the flick, until later that night when Mirabelle receives a package from the gallant shopper. Here begins her second romance, this time with wealthy Ray who does not need to borrow money for a movie, and instead treats her to high class events in L.A.

The viewer quickly sees the paradigm of the forsaken young girl torn between the fun of a youthful irresponsible lover and the comforts a wealthy and respected older man.

Eventually Ray and Mirabelle fall into a fluent love affair that seems to be maintained by fancy gifts and gourmet dinners until the reality of Ray’s motives become clear. Mirabelle, in love and feeling stable, does not recognize Ray’s myopic vision of their relationship; a lack of long term commitment.

The success in this film lies in its character development, each adorable and loveable in their own way. The home spaces, dinners, and costumes set up three very different lives, clearly linked by a slightly incompetent three-way love affair. However, the dynamic between the post-modern actor Jason Schwartzman and the classically humorous Steve Martin is friction-filled at times.

Perhaps that was the purposeful undertone of the story, a fight between the mature humor of the past and the enigmatic humor of today.