January 8th, 2006



I went to see Shopgirl today. I had not planned on seeing it, but then read a good review and thought I'd give it a try.

It stars Claire Danes and Steve Martin and some other guy...the screenplay is by Martin, based on a novella he wrote. It focuses mostly on an affair between Danes and Martin. These things said to me "don't go". But what the heck, matinee at the Palm, I can have popcorn.

Like other things I've seen that Martin has written, it is a bit too obvious. For example, while the camera is showing Danes working at Sax selling gloves and then going home to her lonely little apartment and lying in bed, looking through the skylight, there is a narrative - could be Martin speaking - that tells us she's lonely...we couldn't have guessed. A couple more times in the film the guy comes back on and  states the obvious. Some of the lines are rather nice, and I wonder if that's why they are there, because Steve couldn't bear to let go of them. But they are completely unnecessary. That's one of the rules of screenwriting, of course, don't include anything redundant.

There is a big effort to hold back, to restrain, and the result, unfortunately, is not the understated understanding but instead a kind of restrained hamming...we get to see Martin looking at Danes in bed, and we get to see him look "concerned" and "caring" and yet "unable to express how much he cares". I wonder if the film might have been better if 1) someone else had done the screenplay and 2) someone else had taken the role Martin played. Danes is her quirky self and I think she's fine in this role yet, as much as I like her I wonder if another actress might have done more with it.

The third character is a guy who starts out a major loser but over time learns a bit about growing up and caring about others. I wasn't convinced about the transformation - I mean I didn't really see it happen.

I didn't hate it. I just felt it was flawed and didn't go anywhere that we couldn't have guessed. There are funny moments.