One of the best films I have seen in a while, "Shopgirl" is a moving, funny and heartfelt drama that manages to show Steve Martin in a more serious role while also giving Claire Danes one of her few starring vehicles of recent years.
Based on a short story by Martin, the movie is about a young woman who starts to date an awkward, cheap and rather ridiculous young man (Jason Schwartzman) only to be seduced and intrigued by a much older and more confident millionaire (Martin). The differences with their age, culture and interests raise questions about longevity and trust, while the young man she turned her back on slowly begins to grow into something more. Who will she choose? And did Steve Martin write this story with the direct intent to make a movie where he gets to have a sex scene with a naked and much younger woman? These are the questions that are raised.
The great thing about "Shopgirl" is that it is simple on the surface yet so much more underneath. Basically, the movie is about a girl who must choose between an old and wealthy man or a young a dirt poor guy who will probably treat her better. Beyond that, though, it treats the relationships seriously and realistically and provides an in-depth view at all three characters.
The acting is superb all around. Danes is terrific yet subdued as the lead, though the real stars are Martin and Schwartzman who both step it up as supporting characters. Martin proves once again that he can do something other than comedy, and he's finally getting to the age where his white hair actually makes sense. As for Schwartzman, he does the quirky role once again, but once again does a great job at it and actually takes the character to another level.
It's a shame that "Shopgirl" didn't get more promotion and attention when it was released last fall; it could have easily been a contender for some smaller awards and a decent box office take. This is one of the best movies of 2005.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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