Kristen Stewart reteams with her Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas on the new film Personal Shopper. In it she plays Maureen Cartwright, a woman who makes a living as a personal shopper (natch) to the rich and famous celebrities who aren’t able to go out and do it for themselves. It’s not much but it’s what she does and she’s good at it.
But Maureen is also a medium, someone who claims to be in contact with those on the other side of death. She spends her free time visiting the home of her late twin brother, who she believes will contact her in some way within that house. The drama comes, then, from her wait for that message and the emotional toll it’s taking on the rest of her life.
The first U.S. one-sheet uses the word-of-mouth that’s already been accumulated for the movie to good effect, showing off a handful of critic’s quotes praising the movie and Stewart’s performance along with the symbols of its festival appearances. Stewart is shown behind a semi-opaque curtain as she appears to be trying on shoes. That’s pretty literal to the movie’s title but offers nothing of substance about the story, not even a single line of copy.
We’re thrown immediately in the first trailer into the story, which involves Maureen returning to the house where her dead twin brother is supposed to show her some sort of sign. The conceit is she’s explaining the situation to someone and therefore by proxy to us. Little background is given as to why the twins made this promise. Instead there are lots of jump-scares and spooky music that’s played over footage from either within the ouse or as Maureen is out and about in her regular life.
It’s a bit odd. While the movie is supposed to be a kind of intimate character drama, half the trailer seems to want to sell it as kind of a horror flick. Stewart shines here and it’s her performance that draws the audience in, but a fair amount of the footage looks like it’s from a generic horror movie that would star This Year’s Perky Blonde and disappear from theaters as quickly as it appeared, not for an already well-buzzed potential awards contender.
The next trailer makes the story even more clear. We meet Maureen as she’s engaged in one of her shopping trips on behalf of a client. But we soon see that she’s biding her time until she receives a message from her dead brother. Some of the people around her are skeptical that’s actually going to happen but she’s convinced. It all gets spookier and more mysterious from there.
Again, Stewart looks great here. The story is clearly laid out, though of course there’s still plenty of twists that are hinted at here.
Online and Social
There’s not much on IFC’s official website for the movie, just a brief synopsis, a prompt to watch the trailer and a bit about its festival appearances. There doesn’t appear to be any social networks specifically for this film, it’s just received support on IFC’s brand channels.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There weren’t any TV spots I can find but the studio did run some online ads to drive ticket sales. That appears to be the extent of the paid campaign.
Media and Publicity
The movie debuted at Cannes, where it quickly became one of the most divisive films there as it elicited boos and other strong reactions from the assembled critics and press. Stewart talked while there about the movie’s story and her character. Director Olivier Assayas talked about working with Stewart and the story of the movie while at Cannes as well. It also emerged as one of the few movies at the festival with any real awards buzz.
There was a big profile of Stewart that was really more focused on her personal habits and eccentricities but which also mentioned the movie, part of a campaign to make her more relatable and human, not just the tabloid fodder she’s too often reduced to.
The movie was later added to the lineup of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Stewart hosted “SNL” and otherwise did the rounds of the talk shows to hype up the movie. She also had big interviews in Vanity Fair and other magazines where she talked about texting (which is relevant to the movie’s story) and more.
There’s been a strong emphasis throughout the campaign on this being a major milestone in Stewart’s career, something that has also been focused on in other recent movies. That all seems to be part of an effort to keep everyone aware of how she’s moved past the Twilight franchise and is a serious actress. While that’s true, the overt moves on that front all seem to suggest a strategy that’s trying too hard.
Moving beyond that, there’s a good campaign here. It’s relied heavily on the word of mouth that was generated after festival screenings and the buzz that came from the release of new trailers and other marketing materials. Those trailers, in particular the second one, are good and convey a strong story that has a very emotional core. Stewart appears to be fantastic in her role. If there’s a slight complaint it’s that the trailer doesn’t quite explain everything that’s going on, but that’s alright since it creates a sense of mystery but may turn off some in the general audience.