Director: Anand Tucker

Although he initially envisioned Tom Hanks in the role, during the extensive process of adapting his romantic novella Shopgirl for the big screen, actor Steve Martin decided to use the benefit of his intimate knowledge of the material to take on the character of symbolic computer logician Ray Porter himself. In her best performance so far, Claire Danes is sensitive, intelligent, and introspective as a lonely aspiring artist named Mirabelle who, drowning in school loan debt, works by day as a glove counter salesgirl at Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles in order to keep her evenings free to work on her drawings. Soon this quiet, slightly mousy girl is surprised to become the object of affection of two very different men—Ray Porter (Martin), a successful, divorced businessman in his fifties and Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), an aimless twenty-something slacker stencil artist who hawks amplifiers to rock bands to keep him in French fries and quarters for the Laundromat. In a role originally given to Jimmy Fallon who bowed out before filming, the hilarious Jason Schwartzman steals every scene he’s in. The character of Jeremy benefits greatly from Martin’s brilliant, subtle parallels drawn into the film between both male characters, illustrating to viewers that the two have more similarities than one might think at first glance, with only the benefit of age and experience adding to the air of Porter’s sophistication even though the more we begin to learn about the two, the more we realize that what Mirabelle really needs is a blend of the men (which ultimately she gets in the end after one man has done some serious soul-searching). While, on one hand, he can be accused of egotistical indulgence in taking on the romantic lead himself and onscreen seduction of a young woman more than half his age, I found it quite admirable that Martin didn’t shy away from the pain or pleasure of love as well as some of the inequalities and struggles in power, finance, maturity and fidelity inherit in both male/female dynamics but especially in May/December relationships as depicted in the film. Utilizing a clever, sophisticated narration throughout Tucker’s film, the transfer of Martin’s quality prose to the screen is very well done. For fans of Martin’s writing, I’d also recommend checking out his witty collection of humorous essays and sketches, Pure Drivel, along with his wonderful romantic novella, The Pleasure of My Company.

From Shopgirl

“Lily & Parrots” by Mark Kozelak and Sun Kil Moon
Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway - Lily and Parrots

“Carry Me Ohio” by Mark Kozelak and Sun Kil Moon
Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway - Carry Me Ohio

“Somewhere in My Heart” by Volebeats
Volebeats - Sky and the Ocean - Somewhere In My Heart

“Gimme Little Sign” by Brenton Wood
Brenton Wood - Brenton Wood's 18 Best - Gimme Little Sign

“I Only Want to Be With You” by Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield - The Very Best of Dusty Springfield - I Only Want to Be With You

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