Has L.A. been as sophisticated and elegant as what we see in Shopgirl?
The answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’, as we know the film is penned by Steve Martin, whose treatment towards the city can be in the same par with how Woody Allen muses New York in his stories.
Only the challenge this time is that Martin writes a screenplay for the film which is based on his own novella. Certainly a lot of reservations are put throughout the script, and that is what exactly translated to the screen. A certain hold-back attitude seems to keep the film on hold from letting it free, confining each and every character within their own designated frames, unmoveable ones.
Unfortunately this does not work to Jason Schwartzman who is more at ease with over-the-top acts as he did in many of his previous comedies. Even being assigned with the role of Jeremy, the supposedly free-spirited artist, Schwartzman only seen comfortable when he conveys more with his meaningful silence rather than goofy acts that he does uncomfortably here.
Magically, the confinement does not work at all towards Martin himself, and the actress playing the title character, Claire Danes. Once again pulling off his ability to play serious roles, Martin brings suave attitude to his character, Ray, that makes us understand wholeheartedly why we do not mind being swooned over by him at the first glance.
On the other hand, Danes, at her most mature role to date, gives her character, Mirabella, a sense of independence through the actress’ radiant presence, which suspiciously resulted from her own confidence in imbuing the role. Danes breathes Mirabella with fragility and strength that only makes her presence riveting and lovable at the same time.
Alas, such character traits understandably bring hope to the film, making it uplifting and charming.
In a hard way, the mission to become a romantic comedy, with a little dark humor a la Martin, is accomplished.