Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Claire Danes, Steve Martin, Jason Schwartzman
"Relationships don't always fit like a glove"

Mirabelle Buttersfield

Mirabelle Buttersfield has a unique quirky name. She sells expensive gloves in a little corner of the ladies fashion department in a ritzy store, Saks Fifth Avenue. An average looking girl who wears dresses reminiscent of the 70s era. She also dabbles in strange black and white drawings to express her artistic side. She meets Jeremy at the local laundry shop, they go out on a few dates. Nothing serious though.
Then an older man in his 50s starts pursuing her, showering her with expensive gifts, taking her out to dine in fancy restaurants. But whatever they share, Ray Porter has one condition - it would be a strictly no strings attached relationship. I guess you could call it an open relationship. But as the film unfolds, it is obvious both parties involved have developed feelings for each other but despite and inspite of these emotions surfacing they try their darnest best to stick to the condition. There is an underlying complexity factor which only two mature adults can handle. But given the fact that one of them is a young impressionable girl with a good head on her shoulders, it is much harder for Mirabelle to accept the terms attached to the relationship. At first I found it creepy that Steve Martin was actively pursuing a woman who is young enough to be his daughter. Then I realize that there are certain things that simply happen for a reason (whatever that may be), so slowly the two main characters simply grew on me.

In this film adapted from the novella written by Steve Martin himself, a book I admit I've heard of but never read, there certainly is a Lolita-esque theme. Older lonely yet successfully rich guy meets lonely bored saleslady named Mirabelle Buttersfield. It is cute in a quirky sense sort of love story. A love story that does away with the mushy factor although there are scenes of dining in expensive restaurants, giving of romantic gifts but there is also an extra something that embellish this relationship.

I admit I haven't been a big fan of Claire Danes in any of her movies. No, it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that she did publicly insult the Philippines when she came here to shoot a film. I just felt she was rather apathetic in her acting, always bland with no panache. But as Mirabelle Buttersfield, she was perfect. Her almost expressionless face did justice to the role. Steve Martin in the same way as Robin Williams in any serious role can be quite creepy, by default. I almost expected him to make a funny face, crack jokes and/or amuse the audience with his funny antics. His portrayal of Ray Porter is subdued with a stoic indifference that calls for a lot of sympathetic votes. In short, he was quite endearing.

Suffice it to say, I love this film. It is a unique love story about loneliness as well as about people establishing connection at a deeper level which tugs at my sarcastically stoic heart. You know for someone like me to admit something like that, it must mean I need to get my pulse checked. It is rare that I am drawn towards mushy romantic love stories but then "ShopGirl" isn't an ordinary love story, after all.

I end by quoting my favorite line in the movie. In a pivotal scene towards the end of the film, the narrator says:
"As Ray Porter watches Mirabelle walk away he feels a loss. How is it possible, he thinks, to miss a woman whom he kept at a distance so that when she was gone he would not miss her. Only then does he realize that wanting part of her and not all of her had hurt them both and how he cannot justify his actions except that ... Well... It was life."

Ok all together now .... Awwww how sad!

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