Shopgirl takes you on a journey of bittersweet love by Mirabelle, a Vermont girl who finds herself catering to the rich behind the counter of Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. She’s a starving artist of sorts, lost in LA. She meets two men. Jeremy, an awkward dreamer with a heart of gold. He’s quirky to say the least. He’s into stencils, typography, rock music, and works as a designer for an amp company. Ray is a much older multi-millionaire that flys around LA, Seattle, and New York. Mirabelle doesn’t think much of Jeremy but seeks him out from loneliness to satisfy her physically. Even that was terribly underwhelming. To Ray she pretty much gives him her everything, laying it out on the table for his taking.
Ray sees her as an object but treats her like a queen, showering her with gifts. Jeremy treats her like an object but really cares for her deeply. While Mirabelle goes on a painful journey of unrequited love, Jeremy is travelling on the road with a band that takes him under their wing and opens his eyes to personal betterment.
The movie is exquisitely shot. You can feel Mirabelle’s pain as the lives of the three characters intertwine. Ray’s character is a bastard but Steve Martin gives him a lonely and fragile shadow that keeps you from hating him out right. Jason Schwartzman gives Jeremy a lovable quality while infusing the character with a quirkiness in his own league. He does a masterful job of transforming his character through self-improvement while keeping enough quirkiness to make it real.
Honestly, while Steve Martin doesn’t ruin the movie, I would have liked to see someone else play his role. Someone less known that could infuse it with depth and more believability. Claire Danes’ performance as Mirabelle is Academy Award winning for all the subtle touches and heart-rending pain she conveys. The movie packs a considerable punch near the end and does a wonderful job exploring the meaning of love across the gaps of age, wealth, and personality.