Thursday, October 1, 2009

By Request: Why I Love "Shopgirl"

First of all, my Buyer Beware group is doing a survey for our project, please take a moment to complete it. Thank you!

Amber asked me why it's one of my favourite films, and I thought I'd elaborate through my blog. :)

Shopgirl is a film based on Steve Martin's novella of the same name. Both the novella and the film are among my favourite books/movies. There will be spoilers in this entry:

Anyways, Shopgirl is the story of Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes, one of my favourite actresses), a slightly depressed, dissatisfied twenty-something selling gloves at a department store, while working on her art on the side. She first meets Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a fellow twenty-something, who is broke, socially awkward, and completely infatuated with Mirabelle. Mirabelle does not reciprocate his feelings. Then she meets Ray Porter (Steve Martin) a wealthy man much older than she is. They go out on a date where Ray tells her that their relationship will not be monogamous or something that will last forever. Mirabelle doesn't care, or chooses to ignore this statement, feeling that it is going so well that there's no way it can't last. Ray treats Mirabelle well, though he does cheat on her with an old girlfriend. Mirabelle is hurt, but chooses to forgive Ray. However, she begins to realize that Ray cannot ever love her the way she wants to be loved, and leaves him, choosing to "hurt now, instead of hurting later".

She meets up again with Jeremy, who has spent his time away from Mirabelle trying to improve himself. They go on another date, where he impresses her with the changes he has made. She quits her job at the department store and gets a job at an art gallery, and enters a relationship with Jeremy. She sees Ray again at an art show for her work, where he tells her he always did love her. Mirabelle is moved, but runs back into the arms of Jeremy, the man she realizes can love her the way she wants to be loved, because what he offers is "tender and true".

Anyways, I can relate to Mirabelle better than I can relate to any other character right now. I've had two "Ray Porter" types in my life. One a few years ago, and one much more recently. When I first saw this film it was before Ray Porter #2 entered my life. I was moved, but not quite to tears. I saw it just after I'd met and lost Ray Porter #2 and I cried all night, because I knew he would never love me the way I wanted him to and I missed him. I was a foolish woman, and spent too long wanting this person, even though he was up front that it would not be a long term relationship. But like Mirabelle, I was convinced at the time that things went so well over the summer that we could make things work somehow. I was very mistaken. I spent a long time hurting over the things that went on--time that was wasted, but not regretted because I've learned from the experience.

I also spent a decent amount of time Not quite satisfied with my life, not quite dissatisfied, but no motivation to go out and change it. I was quite like Mirabelle in that way. I would talk about all the things I disliked about my life and my situation but did nothing to change it. Ive always believed that there is a breaking point in every human relationship, where one party decides enough is enough and chooses to move on. They've been hurt too much, too disillusioned, etc. I'm the type of person who needs to hit that breaking point, and be hurt very badly. I realized it wasn't worth it anymore, that I got more pain than satisfaction from my situation and left it. And it's done, and I haven't looked back. I'm happier. But I've felt the sting of wanting someone you can never fully have. Of being kept at arm's length, ignored, wanting someone who can be so insensitive to your feelings that they do not hesitate to say something they know will hurt you. They do things to hurt you, to see how you will react...

I may have moved on from my situation, but I can still relate to the movie. I found my own Jeremy type. :) Someone who accepts me for who I am, who makes me truly, genuinely happy all the time. Like Mirabelle, I took a hard look at my life, and sought to improve it. In the past month, I've quit my job, started a program I really love, and tried to remove all the things in my life that have caused me pain. Plus I have a really wonderful boyfriend. :) There's still things in my life that hurt, but I'm trying to steer away from drama. I don't have time for it, school is taking over my life, and when I'm not busy with school, I want to be with Kirk or my friends. I don't want to be spending my time dealing with silly drama. On a whole, I'm happier than I've been in a long time. And I'm really proud of myself for doing the whole self-improvement thing. I spent the last year trying to improve myself in some ways, but I was never really satisfied, because I wasn't improving my emotional state of being, and my life situation. The second I dealt with that, I became happier.

I think the movie would still make me cry like a baby. I read the book over the summer, right in the middle of dealing with all this, and by page 36 I was in tears. I cried pretty much all the way through. I know it's not for everyone, but some of Steve Martin's lines were so beautiful and true (at least to me), that I was moved to tears. I think when you get down to it, the film and book are about foolish love, and everyone has a foolish love story. But I also believe everyone gets their happy ending, eventually. I think ultimately the movie has a happy ending, because Mirabelle grows as a person, and finds happiness with someone she once wrote off.

Here's a scene from the end that always makes me cry.
(I just watched it and I'd be in tears right now if my Dad wasn't down here beside me working on the desk top computer) I just wish that clip included the final voice over bit, because it just makes it all the more moving. Anyway, if you've watched it and haven't seen the movie, that gives you all incentive to go and see the movie. Please do watch it. Now I really feel like re-watching it again, to see how different my viewing experience will be as someone who is now more like Mirabelle at the end of the film, rather than Mirabelle when she was with Ray.


  1. Jenni, thanks SO MUCH for explaining all this. It really helps to know that this is drawn from real relationship styles and that it did match up with reality in that way. That was my problem when I saw the movie - it struck me as unreal, and thus I thought the movie wasn't good. I can see the value now. :)

  2. Glad you can see the value..:) In a similar vein, I want to rewatch Lost in Translation sometime soon, because I think I'd get a lot more out of it than I did when I was 14 years old. I read a summary recently and it seems like I could relate to it more now that I've grown so much from the person I was at 14.

  3. I LOVE "Lost in Translation." I watched it when it first came out, and didn't get it. People were raving about how good it was, however, so awhile ago I decided to give it another shot. It was worth it.

    I think we should combine our brain power and write a really kick ass, in depth screenplay Jen. I think we would dominate...

  4. Yes, we definitely should! When CreComm is off for the summer, we should get at it, and go Hollywood on everyone. We'll take over the world with our awesome brain power. ;)