on October 21, 2005 by Kevin Courrier
Claire Danes has probably never been so beautifully lit as she is here by the peerless cinematographer Peter Suschitzky ("A History of Violence"). She's as luminous as a young Katharine Hepburn in repose. It's a shame, then, that this tale of diminished romantic expectations isn't equally lustrous. "Shopgirl" is basically a more languid "Reality Bites."

Mirabelle (Claire Danes) is a rather lonely aspiring artist who works at Saks Fifth Avenue's glove counter. Before long, two radically different men enter her life. Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) is a hopelessly inept slacker who initially does little to impress her. Ray Porter (Steve Martin), on the other hand, is a wealthy computer executive who comes across like Prince Charming. When Jeremy goes on a life-lesson trip on the road with a rock band, Ray enters Mirabelle's life, only to offer her less than she had hoped for.

"Shopgirl" is essentially a story about how appearances aren't everything, but unfortunately, there's little to perceive beneath the surface. Martin is playing a middle-aged divorced man who is emotionally aloof, yet he is also so pinched that we really can't comprehend the emotions he's hiding. As for Jason Schwartzman, the colorless star of "Rushmore" and "I Heart Huckabees," he's such a charmless and obnoxious leading man that he doesn't begin to convey an inner life worth knowing. As radiant as Claire Danes is, the romantic entanglements are so uninspiring that she can't really anchor her performance. Bridgette Wilson-Sampras as an Amazon tigress who seduces Jeremy provides the only snap in the picture. "Shopgirl" ultimately has little to sell. Starring Steve Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. Directed by Anand Tucker. Written by Steve Martin. Produced by Ashok Amritraj, Jon Jashni and Steve Martin. A Buena Vista release. Drama/Comedy. Rated R for some sexual content and brief language. Running time: 106 min

Tags: Claire Danes, Steve Martin, Jason Schwartzman, Anand Tucker, Ashok Amritraj, Jon Jashni, Buena Vista, Drama, Comedy, Mirabelle, Jeremy, Ray Porter

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