Directed by Anand Tucker, starring Claire Danes, Steve Martin, Jason Schwartzman and Bridgette Wilson-Sampras.
Having recently wasted his talent on dull family films, and not done enough serious roles to show his range, Steve Martin restores some of his fans' faith with 'Shopgirl'. A labour of love for Martin - he wrote the novella on which it is based, the screenplay and also produced the film - it's a low-key, touching and funny story about the search for someone in the anonymity of Los Angeles.
An aspiring artist who left her Vermont home to come to LA, Mirabelle (Danes) pays the rent by working at a glove counter at emporium to the rich, Saks Fifth Avenue. She's bored and wasted in the job, but even worse she's lonely.
Enter Jeremy (Schwartzman), a misfit designer who meets Mirabelle in a laundrette and asks her out. The date is a disaster – Jeremy has no money so he has to borrow from Mirabelle to go to the movies.
But just as Mirabelle is resigning herself to the possibility that Jeremy is as good as it gets, Ray Porter (Martin) whisks her off her feet. Porter is a self-assured and urbane millionaire whose aloofness negates the age gap and just adds to his attractiveness. He can offer Mirabelle many things - but real love might not be one of them.
Shot beautifully and with a beguiling score by 'Inspector Morse' composer Barrington Pheloung, 'Shopgirl' is one of those films whose slight storyline will manage to say either a lot or very little to people, depending on their outlook. There are no big declarations of undying love, no proposals out the sunroofs of limousines, no standoff between the male suitors and happy ever after seems more complicated than going it alone. And so it feels closer to real-life than Hollywood normally gives audiences credit for. The film makes you wonder if relationships and deep connections are because of luck or fate; you don't get any answers but maybe you wouldn't want them anyway.
Martin, Danes and Schwartzman work off each other very well, and while Martin's character's desire to be distant renders him somewhat dull, the strength of the script is that you want to see all three of them find what - or who - they're looking for. And of course it's always easier to see other people make the mistakes that you'd be far too smart to make yourself.