The focus of Shopgirl is Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes), a quiet, insecure glove saleswoman at Saks, an ingenue from Vermont living alone in her L.A. apartment and struggling with student loans. A comedic love triangle develops between Mirabelle and two gentleman, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), and Ray Porter (Steve Martin). Jeremy and Ray represent the opposite spectrums that are found in all love-triangle films: Jeremy is the aspiring roadie and front artist for a downtrodden amplifier company while Ray is the older, wealthier and smoother logician. Throughout, Mirabelle remains tantalizingly enigmatic, sometimes letting her counterparts overpower her but shining through in the second half of the film.

Danes (The Hours, My So-Called Life) and Martin (who penned the script and the novella it's based on) have excellent chemistry, and their relationship strikes the perfect and utterly realistic balance between simplicity and complication. Schwartzman, however, comes across as bumbling, cutesy and unbearably self-aware, and Martin's clumsy comedy makes the film at times feel like a protracted Saturday Night Live skit. But his fascinating voiceover, and director Anand Tucker's astounding sense of aesthetics -- effortlessly beautiful shots, breathtaking lighting and a fantastic soundtrack -- easily make this film worth watching.


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