Can director-muse lightning strike twice in the same spot? Nearly three years ago, Kristen Stewart starred alongside Juliette Binoche in Gallic auteur Olivier Assayas’ surreal, brilliantly unsettling drama Clouds of Sils Maria; the role earned Stewart the French equivalent of an Oscar and seemed to free her, finally, from the last of Twilight’s tween shackles. The pair’s second outing together feels something like a sequel, though it’s really more of a sliding door: an intriguing if ultimately half-formed mash-up of supernatural horror, celebrity satire, and stylized art-house ennui.
Here, Stewart once again plays a young American adrift in Europe, and still toiling in the fame-industrial complex — not as a catchall assistant to a famous actress this time, but in the slightly more elevated post of personal shopper. By day Maureen rides her scooter through the narrow streets of Paris, picking up sequined Chanel sheaths and Cartier jewels for her employer, a spoiled, little-seen starlet. But her mind is consumed with the recent death of her twin brother; he believed he was a medium, and that she shares the same sensitivities. There are plenty of signs that she does: Ghostly figures appear; glasses shatter; foreboding texts materialize on her iPhone. Stewart, who appears in nearly every scene, is intensely watchable, a coiled spring. But the movie is too fragmented and tonally strange to register as more than one of Maureen’s wispy, haunted apparitions. B