worth watching: Shopgirl (2005)

In this quietly moving and subdued romantic kind-of comedy, Claire Danes shines as plain Jane Mirabelle Buttersfield from Vermont who moved to LA to pursue a life less ordinary. She works at Saks and draws pictures (only sometimes) and is a solitary spirit most of the time. One evening, while doing laundry, she happens upon the hapless Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), whose socially inept behavior is totally cringeworthy. (I still root for him, though; he’s the underdog of the movie.) Until, of course, she meets Ray Porter, a wealthy “logician,” played by Steve Martin (who wrote the novella upon which the film is based). Ray seduces and woos with candles, flowers and gifts, but stays distant emotionally.

As the story unfolds, we watch all three characters develop further emotionally. There are many honest moments, but seem to dwindle in the shadow of the inappropriateness of Mirabelle’s relationship with Ray. Yes, Steve Martin (while likable) may have written the novella, but he was way too old to play a role in which the audience is supposed to be convinced that a dewy 24-year old woman is falling all over herself for him – and honestly doesn’t see him as a “sugar daddy.” Please. I could have cast it way better. Richard Gere? Tom Selleck? Alec Baldwin? Tom Hanks, even, who was actually considered, but ultimately not chosen. I normally applaud casting directors for their choices – things have a way of coming together, but the older male lead in this movie was a total miss for me and made it awkward to watch at points. The silver lining? The ending, which I’ll totally spoil: Jeremy gets his act together, finds himself in “the moment” and gets the girl. This is an outside-the-box romantic dramedy that isn’t cheap or trite, and is deeply flawed, yet still undoubtedly worth watching!

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