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Week 4: Confessions of a Shopaholic [Feb. 24th, 2009|05:45 pm]
The Independent Film Forum


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Do chick flicks make you smile or do they make your blood boil? The next film up for discussion in The Independent Film Forum is Confessions of a Shopaholic. Did your heart warm to Isla Fisher's ditsy performance? Is Hugh Dancy the next Hugh Grant? Is this enjoyable escapism or mindless misogyny? Air your views in the comment section below and we'll print the best of your comments in the newspaper next week.

Here's a trailer

Writing in The Independent, Anthony Quinn was fairly damning about the film:

"This sickening ode to consumerist greed comes just in time for the recession., Actually, its protagonist's behaviour could stand as a perfect micro-illustration of the credit crisis: borrow and spend, maniacally. Such is the life of would-be journalist Rebecca (Isla Fisher), a ditzy redhead – think Crystal Tips, without Alistair – who accidentally lands a job with a New York financial magazine in spite of being up to her waist in debt. Hugh Dancy plays the mag editor who's mystifyingly suckered in by her, Kristin Scott Thomas the fashion guru likewise hoodwinked. That Rebecca has neither honesty nor credibility does not occur to the screenwriters, who simply plough on with the idea that shamelessness is a form of charm. If only."

Meanwhile, the AV Club was relatively generous...

"The degree to which Shopaholic actually works is a testament to the looks, charm, and comedic chops of Fisher, who stole Wedding Crashers and has a gift for slapstick that places her somewhere between Téa Leoni and Lucille Ball in the pantheon of foxy redheaded physical comediennes... But at 112 minutes, the film overstays its welcome, and its attempts to eke pathos out of this superficial silliness are more laughable than any of its gags. Fisher makes for a winning Cinderella, but by its third act, this hokey, old-fashioned vehicle turns back into a pumpkin."

However, New York's Village Voice wasn't so kind:

"Based on British writer Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, the first two books in a seemingly endless series, Confessions the film moves the source material's setting from London to New York, with the Hearst Building serving as the promised land. Kinsella is essentially a Helen Fielding manqué; the movie a wan imitation of The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City (both the TV show and the film, the latter of which already felt like a fossil when it opened last spring). Kinsella's first two Shopaholic books were published in 2000 and 2001, respectively—the tail end of the last gilded age. Why adapt these cultural relics now?"

What did you think? Give us your opinions below...


From: annie576
2009-03-03 10:43 am (UTC)
Stupid, stupid, stupid... Bloody hell! How do they make these things? Who watches them? I know it's supposed to be "just a bit of fun" but this is just so, so bad. A bad joke. Is anyone fooled by it? Why bother?

Isla Fisher is ok considering; she hams it up way too much but it's hardly surprising given the material.

It makes Sex and the City look like a Greek classic.
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From: tree_feller
2009-03-03 12:05 pm (UTC)
Sex and the City *was* greater than any Greek Classic, and while confessions of a Shopaholic doesn't quite scale those heights, it's a fine light-hearted piece of escapism and a good way to spend a Saturday night. With the CEC (current economic climate) the way it is, I think we need to loosen the reigns a little and start to enjoy fluff like this fluff more. And besides, if we were all shopaholics now, maybe we could spend our way out of the recession!
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From: mmtaylor
2009-03-03 11:51 am (UTC)
Right, ok. I know this is a terrible film. Clearly it's awful, but I just want to say I really enjoyed it. It's really very silly, and if I was to think seriously about it, perhaps it's borderline offensive to women. But still, sometimes I just enjoy really bad chick flicks... The worse, the better! It's light relief. And it was more funny than the Bride Wars one or that Rennee Zellweger film. Don't judge me too harshly; I like proper, "good" films too, but occassionally, especially given how depressing the world can seem at the moment, it's nice just to switch off and watch something mindless. Though all the credit and shopping felt a bit like a throwback!

There, I've said it.
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From: lillianpike
2009-03-03 11:59 am (UTC)
This is the worst chick flick I have ever seen. It has taken every cliche going - shopping, shoes, stupid women - and thrown them at the screen. The director has taken a selection of far superior - and box-office busting - films - Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada and Clueless to name but three - and blended them together to make a horrible, cynical mess. The main problem is the dearth of funny jokes - I counted one - and a fatal lack of wit which makes the best chick flicks enjoyable. Isla Fisher is likeable but this role is too irritating to be a success and Hugh Dancy is a poor man's Hugh Grant
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From: quinlansteele
2009-03-03 12:09 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with what most have said above. It's truly terrible and waste of good film resources. But as someone who generally enjoys throw away chick flicks - and the good rom coms too - I recently read an article that pin pointed what was wrong with this and most such films since Sex and the City. It said that since that series and film, the woman is the central protagonist on her own, whereas in the classic screwball rom coms of the past, the man was equal part in the film and they would both come together to make a better whole - think Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn, or even Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Now it's just a woman and some hunky man with no personality. Isla Fisher's credit card has a bigger role than Hugh Dancey in this film and that says it all really.
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From: pinky_perky
2009-03-03 12:37 pm (UTC)
I loathed this film. Here are my reasons why:

1. Who is Isla Fisher and why is she on my screen? She'd be nowhere without her boyfriend Ali G, who has obviously whored her around Hollywood, trying to set up meetings. I hope she enjoys playing ditzy girlfriends for the next seven years. Thought she was over the top and annoying.

2.Patricia Field was the stylist? Becky's outfits were horrific. She looked like a Care Bear threw up on her.

3. Too much product placement. And so obviously done.

4. By portraying women as man hungry, stupid overspenders, she nicely halts advances of women. This film, unsurprisingly, was directed by a man.

5. Hugh Dancy? SHAME ON YOU. Must try harder.

6. KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS??? What were you thinking???

All in all, the sort of girls who would enjoy a film like this are ones who go out on hen nights wearing L plates and dildos on their head. For anyone with a bit more culture, give it the flick.

Toodles x
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From: jhscarborough
2009-04-15 02:54 pm (UTC)
If you think of “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” directed by P.J. Hogan, written by Tracey jackson and Tim Firth, more along the lines of “The Lost Weekend” and less along the lines of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “He’s Just Not That Into You” you’ll get a good sense of the movie’s real achievement.

It’s easy to think of this as a romantic comedy (it is, delightfully) and an opportunity to showcase some very stylish clothes (oh yeah) worn by a very stylish woman, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), in some very stylish settings (the corporate world of publishing). In all her It Girl outfits Fisher bumbles through the streets and boardrooms of New York like a very clumsy runway model.

She’s an endearing character, thoroughly un-stuck up (look at her jus’ plain folk parents, Graham – John Goodman – and Jane – Joan Cusack), who wants to leave her current, tedious-to-her gig as garden writer and write about fashion. The young woman has dreams and that’s refreshing. Refreshing, too, no, make that remarkable, is that somehow the movie, for all its glamour and hotness, manages to completely avoid the subject of sex. That’s a large source of the movie’s comedy, this headstrong, ambitious, clean-cut and attractive woman having all sorts of predicaments when, as a recent college graduate, she tries to make it in the journalism business in New York.

But she does have a dark side. Sort of. Let’s call it a pastel side. It would be a dark side if she were a junkie or an alcoholic and did all the things one does to procure one’s poison of choice. There’s an edge to movie, but it’s blunted by the glamour. But it’s still pernicious, to judge by all the trouble she gets into. She’s addicted to clothes. And not just any old clothes but the most haute of couture, the most trendy, the most expensive clothes imaginable. She walks down the streets and, instead of pink elephants, she’s confronted by mannequins in tony store windows who inveigle her like Twiggy sirens to buy this, try on that. Not just another fashion victim, but a slave to advertising.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that she looks fabulous in the things she impulse-buys. It mollifies any thought we might have that she has a serious problem. But it’s a problem nonetheless. Naturally her pittance of a salary doesn’t cover the cost of these clothes, so what does she do? She racks up credit card debt. A ton of it.

Good morning, America.

Undaunted, she sallies forth, getting a gig as, of all things, a smart consumer columnist. The irony’s not lost on neither she nor her best friend, Suze (Krysten Ritter). She becomes a minor celebrity (I’m surprised, relieved that there are no YouTube segments embedded in the movie of what happens when she appears on national TV).

She’s got issues, issues that escalate. She’s hounded by the hilarious Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton), a Chihuahua-persistent collections agent. She messes up Suze’s wedding. She stands to lose Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), her editor, the one who believes in her, her One True Love, all because of this problem she has. At Suze’s behest she attends a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting. Initially she mocks it, just to placate her friend. In the end, though, having lost everything, she embraces it. And coming out of denial sets up a very sweet ending.

The movie’s special because it highlights an addiction (face it, consumeritis is an addiction) while making its consequences look trendy and fashionable. It’s not meant to be a moral-heavy story. Far from it. But think about it. All this consumer debt, this pervasive financial crises, all these families-on-the brink.

Wouldn’t it be something if this movie, besides its huge entertainment value, could also teach us something about coming to grips with our various addictions, facing up to them, and dealing with them? In other words, perhaps the movie’s real value is to get us to face the consequences of our addictions. Perhaps it’s not an economic stimulus package we need but personal accountability therapy.
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