Older businessman meets younger woman. Younger woman meets slacker dude. Choices, choices. This is Shopgirl, a comedy-romance that’s about as autumnal as comedy-romances get when they’re set in Los Angeles. First it was a best-selling novella written by Steve Martin, and now it’s a movie (shot back in 2003) starring Martin, alongside Claire Danes (as the titular counter clerk at Saks Fifth Avenue) and Jason Schwartzman (as Martin’s scruffy romantic rival). Why the delay? ”I think [the film] underwent a few renovations, and it took [director] Anand [Tucker] quite a while to find the most compelling story within all the material we shot,” attests Danes. ”I saw a version a year ago, and I saw another one about two months ago. It was much changed. Improved. Usually more time means a bigger mess. But that wasn’t the case here.” That probably comes as a relief to Martin, who also wrote the screenplay and was deeply involved throughout. ”He wasn’t directing the movie, but he definitely helped the director,” says Schwartzman. ”I don’t want to say ‘supervising,’ because that makes him sound like a police officer. I just think it’s nice to have the writer there. Especially when it’s Steve Martin.”
”With him around, there was the chance we weren’t totally maiming the thing,” says Danes, who acknowledges the challenges in adapting the book. ”It’s a really intimate portrait [of the female lead], but it’s not told in the first person. It seems like it’s from her perspective, but it really isn’t. The question is, whose story is it?” According to Danes, it’s Martin’s — in spirit, at least: ”I think it was really brave of him to expose parts of himself he didn’t have to expose.” Careful, Steve: That sort of thing can get you arrested at Saks.