Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes – Les Miserables and Romeo + Juliet) is a young woman from Vermont who works at the glove counter at Saxs Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. New to Los Angeles, she is lonely and bored with her life. An aspiring artist who is only working to support herself and to pay off her student loan; she spends most of her day at work staring out into the beyond. One night while doing her laundry she meets Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman – Bewitched and I Heart Huckabees), an eccentric who takes a shine to her immediately. Mirabelle and Jeremy go out on a date which is less than successful. Because she is lonely Mirabelle phones Jeremy one night and they attempt unsuccessfully to make love. At work the next day, Mirabelle sells a pair of gloves to an older gentleman and when she arrives home the gloves are in a box on her front porch with an invitation to dinner from Ray Porter (Steve Martin – The Jerk and Cheaper By The Dozen). Ray comes by Sax the next day and tells Mirabelle to meet him at La Ronde for dinner. She decides to go and they have a less than eventful dinner. Ray is a very successful logician who runs his own business and has a house in Los Angeles and one in Seattle. Mirabelle is taken in by his success and decides to continue seeing him. In the meantime, Jeremy, a stenciler for an amplifier company, gets an offer to go on the road for a few months with a band. Jeremy calls Mirabelle to invite her over, but she already has plans with Ray and refuses. While on the road, Jeremy decides that he is going to change himself for the better in order to impress Mirabelle. Mirabelle goes over to Ray's house for dinner and they begin a relationship. Ray is just in it for a no-strings-attached sexual partner and Mirabelle is falling in love. Mirabelle is hurt by the fact that Ray is not treating their relationship as an exclusive one. Jeremy returns to Los Angeles after many months on the road a changed man. He has his life together and is financially stable now. Once Mirabelle figures out that Ray will never be 'in love' with her she has to make some decisions about her life and how she wants to lead it.
Shopgirl may seem like your typical 'who will she choose' movie. It is anything but. This is a complex film that looks at the ups and downs of relationships, not from a couple's perspective but rather how the individual deals with it. The film shows how life experience can change a person and personal growth can happen due to the strangest things. Unlike the over-the-top zany characters he portrays in movies, Steve Martin the writer (he wrote the novella that the screenplay, which he also wrote, is based on) is more interested in character studies. The film is a 'quiet' one along the lines of 'Lost In Translation' where it is a study of the lives of the characters involved in the film. Director Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) allows the dialogue and actors to be the focal point of the film and rightly so. There are some beautiful shots of the skyline and city of Los Angeles within the film; he obviously is quite taken with Los Angeles. Also the music/score in the film, by Barrington Pheloung (Truly, Madly, Deeply and Hillary and Jackie), was beautiful. The actors involved are all perfect in their roles. It is nice to see Claire Danes back onscreen in a leading role; it has been awhile for this talented young actress. She brings the right combination of sadness and innocence to the role of Mirabelle. This is her best performance in many years. This interesting film shows how complicated life and relationships can be and takes us on a voyage of non-traditional places found in the human heart and mind.
-"Evolution of a Novella: The Making of Shopgirl"