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Shopgirl

The latest installment in the Pretty Woman genre (poor young good hearted lass meets rich older male benefactor) comes to us from the mind of Steve Martin who writes and stars in the film based on his novella. Claire Danes, who we weren't really familiar with (and still aren't due to the fact that she kept morphing during this film to look exactly like numerous other actresses of the day), plays our shop girl. Claire's Mirabelle Buttersfield is an innocent college grad from Vermont with artistic aspirations who moves to L.A. where she takes a job at Saks Fifth avenue in the dress up glove department. During her workaday existence, (while resembling a younger Jodie Foster), she meets Jason Schwartzman and then Martin and becomes involved with both of them semi romantically. We say semi because, although our leading men couldn't be more different in all other ways, they are united in that neither of them has a very good grasp on the concept of romance. Martin plays a rich and obviously older jet setter who desires female companionship while he is in town and is willing to provide substantial financial gifts for the privilege. He is smooth, refined and cultured but lacks a basic understanding of the mating ritual he gets involved in or at least underestimates the affect it will have on both he and young Claire (who looks, when she is in his company, a lot like Gwyneth Paltrow). Schwartzman, on the other hand, is broke, socially clumsy and embarrassingly uncouth and upfront about wanting to spend time with Claire, who he meets in a laundry mat where she is folding clothes (looking like a done down Scarlett Johansson). Schwartzman has nothing much to offer her however other than his inner goodness which is obfuscated at first by the rest of his hipster artsy baggage and blunt persona. Neither seems the ideal man for our naive but good hearted young artist, (who looks like a unmade up Liv Tyler when she's alone), especially once we find out more about her and learn she has issues of her own that don't jibe well with Martin's businesslike and romantically removed approach to their relationship. It all gets sorted out in the bittersweet way that pervades Martin's work and Claire, (beaming like a radiant Cate Blanchett) ends up with her own show at a trendy gallery.

This is a better film than this review makes it sound and is pleasant to watch for some reason despite containing many odd and drawn out shots of the front of Mirabelle's apartment building, long scenes of Claire shaving her legs (which look like the gams of a collegiate Mira Sorvino) and lingering looks at the men alone watching television. Despite the morphology, Danes is good and believable in the role and Martin is basically playing himself sans humor. Mrs. Sampras (Bridgette Wilson) does a surprisingly good job as a slutty coworker of Danes since she is assumedly not playing herself there and one of our favorites Rebecca Pidgeon makes a brief appearance as well playing an old flame of Martin's. Not a bad way to spend a couple hours and besides, where else are you going to go to see so many of today's popular actresses in one place.

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