Last night Middlebrow and I watched "Shopgirl." I read the book last year (on the plane to Milwaukee, actually). When I read the book, it felt like an outline, or a rough summary. Too much of it was exposition, too little in scene. So it seemed natural that the book would become a movie, almost like it was written to become a movie. (So why write a novella? Because you are Steve Martin, and you can).
I liked the movie, and I think it did a good job of conveying the creepiness of Ray Porter. He was creepy and charming at the same time. One thing I think the movie did a better job of than the book was communicating (visually) the ways in which Ray objectified and manipulated Mirabelle, how he marionetted (is that a word?) her. But she let him. Because it was better than being alone.
The flaw in the movie, though not huge, was the voiceover. The book has a narrator, but it is not Ray Porter. The narrator comments on the things Ray does wrong, where he fails. The voice over "narrator" (Ray) does this too, but in the movie it has the feeling of retrospective realization. In the book, it's more of an omniscient voice that is more sympathetic to Mirabelle.
I cried at the end, though now I don't know why. I think it might be because Mirabelle had moved so far beyond Ray, and Ray still seemed stuck. And he was never right for her in the first place. And she ended up with Jeremy, which was great.
I think my favorite scene in the movie is when Jeremy calls Mirabelle from the road and, reading from a self-help book, leaves a message on the answering machine that says, "I think I may have objectified you." It was funny, but touching too.
I worry, though, that Jeremy's financial success may make the "moral" of the movie something like, when you are self-actualized you will have emotional and financial success. I know Suze Orman would like this. But ultimately I think the movie is about Mirabelle, although Ray thinks it's about him. Jeremy, however, always knows it's about Mirabelle. (I want to see the Mirabelle font.)
My friend, who should know, told me the book was based on real events in Steve Martin's life. The book is dedicated "to Allyson." Hmm.
Some last thoughts: I'm a little in love with Clare Danes and Jason Schwartman. In that order. Steve Martin has aged well, but he still shouldn't have played Ray. I want Middlebrow to take me to Armani to get a fitted dress. But, barring that, I'll settle for some new shoes. (But not cruel shoes!!!)