There could probably not be a worse to time to release a film that shows its lead character swamped in debt. Yet, if this film had any merits it could possibly get away with a message of overindulgence.

Unfortunately, PJ Hogan's 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' is not the film to make you forget about the outside world of negative equity, new income and pension levies and the other stealth taxes sure to come our way.

Indeed, the only belt tightening Rebecca Bloomwood (Fisher) does is Versace and Gucci. The glamorisation of reckless overspending is unlikely to sit well with those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

Rebecca is a journalist who is stuck working for a home and garden magazine and longs for a job at style bible Alette. Even though she gets an interview for a job at Alette, her dreams are dashed when the position is filled. Rebecca has to make do with a job at a personal finance magazine within the same group.

Her column on sensible saving gains her acclaim but also draws the affection of her editor Luke Brandon (Dancy). However, neither her readers nor her colleagues are aware that she has accumulated over $16,000 in debt on her 12 credit cards. They fail to realise that she has never met a handbag or dress she didn't like. For poor little Rebecca, shopping is the best feeling in the world.

With the encouragement of her best friend (Ritter), Rebecca tries to conquer her addiction but leaves Shoppers Anonymous to hit the shops. Such is her need for a hit that she even breaks an 'only-in-emergencies' credit card from an ice block.

Rebecca is finally embarrassed into admitting her problem by a stereotypically dreary debt collector. It is only then that she realises what she could lose and resolves to turn her life around. As it turns out, a man will treat you better than a store. You could probably guess the rest of the plot from here.

Women are portrayed here as needy and at times insane, particularly one scene at a sale when Rebecca and another customer come to blows over a pair of knee-high boots.

There will be comparisons made between this and 'Sex and the City', but the only area where they are equal is the costume department, with Patricia Field responsible for both. The chick flick tag should not be an automatic turn-off for men, but there is absolutely nothing in this for them.

'Confessions of a Shopaholic' has a guaranteed audience as it is based on the best-selling novel by Sophie Kinsella, but with a lightweight performance from Fisher, it will not have any appeal to those outside its target audience.

Cinema, like other forms of entertainment and sport, offers a form of escapism and light relief in these tough times but there are many other good films that are more deserving of your hard-earned and dwindling cash.

Glenn Mason