Any fan of Steve Martin's 2000 novella
will enjoy this pitch-perfect adaptation, which glowingly captures the bittersweet tones of a May-December romance. Martin wrote the screenplay and stars as Ray Porter, a button-down 50-something executive who reaches out to a much younger woman as a Los Angeles playmate. The book and movie, though, are both primarily about Mirabelle (Claire Danes), a 20-something with a pile of promises, debt, and depression, as she fades away into a slow corner of Saks selling unneeded formal gloves. She's a wisp of a person, with a cat who doesnt love her, and when she finds a suitor, it's Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a scruffy artist who babbles on about speakers. When the gentlemanly Porter calls, his appearance in her life begins to make her whole. It also immediately sets her up for sadness--Ray thinks of Mirabella as a precious outlet for sex, while Mirabelle, very mistakenly, sees Ray as a potential lifelong mate. Martin deftly turns the novella's prose into dialogue, allowing the movie to feel full-bodied, and the film also works as a comedy, as we witness Jeremy's growth on the road with a rock band. Schwartzman would walk away with film if not for the perfectly cast leads: Martin does another smart turn away from his wild-and-crazy moniker, Danes has never been better in an Oscar-worthy performance, and Bridgette Wilson-Sampras aces her role as a hot-to-trot co-worker of Mirabelle's. Whoever's decision to have Martin be the omnipresent narrator, though, should be penalized, as its confusing to have him in two roles, and the information is pretty useless, even robbing the film of a final grace note. --Doug Thomas
Based on Steve Martin's best-selling novella, and starring Golden Globe(R) winner Claire Danes (Best Actress In A TV Series, MY SO-CALLED LIFE, 1994), Golden Globe(R) nominee Steve Martin (Best Actor In A Motion Picture -- Comedy/Musical, FATHER OF THE BRIDE PART II, 1995), and Jason Schwartzman (BEWITCHED), SHOPGIRL is a disarmingly funny love story. Mirabelle, brilliantly played by Danes, is an aspiring artist working behind the glove counter at a Beverly Hills department store when she meets two very different men -- Jeremy (Schwartzman), a socially inept guy who doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and Ray (Martin) a wealthy entrepreneur who has the world at his feet. Filled with the mixed signals and missteps of a modern romance, SHOPGIRL is a fresh and witty, warm, and funny romantic comedy you can't help but fall in love with.