Thursday, March 26, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

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Welcome to the Isla Fisher show, where despite her diminutive size she holds court throughout and I thought she's finally getting the recognition she deserves in being able to marquee a film herself. One cannot forget how she burst onto the scene in Wedding Crashers as the psychotic stalker after Vince Vaughn, and from there some other bit parts like those in Wedding Daze, and one of my favourites from last year, Definitely, Maybe. She has this indescribable aura, that goofy grin, and that incredible perfect timing for physical comedy, without looking stupid.

One can easily dismiss Confessions of a Shopaholic as just another chick flick, and its premise is nothing not already attempted by the East (in the film The Shopaholics starring Cecilia Cheung before her fall from grace), even though this film is based on a best selling novels by Sophie Kinsella. It's an interesting illness that Rebecca Bloomwood (Fisher) suffers from, where she lives a Jackyl and Hyde lifestyle, having fashion labels as close friends whom she addresses intimately by first names, and owns plenty of clothes, shoes, and enough accessories that can fill her entire room. Her Hyde hears mannequins at shop windows call out to her, and interaction with animated objects is just part of her everyday life. Hyde too comes with a magic (credit) card that grants instant happiness delivered as soon as a magnetic swipe at the cashier's.

But her Dr Jackyl is what makes the film a draw actually, because in times like this of economic hardship, it just hits home the fact that quick credit is the path to the shambles that many would readily share their experience. Joining a financial magazine as a stepping stone toward her real objective in writing for a fashion mag in the same umbrella of publishers, Rebecca soon finds herself making the best use of her opportunity in combining her zilch knowledge in finance with the pizazz and flair she has for fashion, and writes under the moniker of The Girl In The Green Scarf, dispensing some real life financial advice that even a layman (or woman) would understand and make sense of.

Which of course is complete irony for Rebecca, as she doesn't practice what she preaches. As we know from the onset she's someone who can't balance her financials, and is already deep in debt no thanks to her impulses to buy. The ditzy klutz teaching everyone how to live a financially responsible life, and slowly realizing her influence and clout amongst her readers, winning new fans from the woman on the streets to the suits in boardrooms. But what's a movie without an adversary? So we have a stereotypical bean counter in Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton), complete with slicked back hair, ugly glasses and a dogged attitude of a debt collector. This provides avenue for a number of laughs, besides those in the self-help therapy group, or cat fights amongst those looking for cheap bargains. Yes, there are the inevitable cliches, unfortunately.

Besides Fisher's charismatic turn, she's surrounded by a supporting cast whom you can broadly categorize under the great lookers, and those with gravitas. Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) as Rebecca's object for affection (other than fashion labels) and Alicia (Leslie Bibb) as a long legged rival belong to the former, not very interesting other than being eye candy, while the powerhouses of Kristin Scott Thomas and John Goodman bring some extra oomph in their roles as a French woman who's also the magazine editor of "Alette" (really hamming it up) and Rebecca's dad respectively, in addition to others like Joan Cusack and John Lithgow. The soundtrack provided extra lift too, with some of the latest pop acts contributing bubble gum tracks that will leave you tapping your feet to.

Confessions of a Shopaholic treads a fine balance between fluffy entertainment and a film with a strong message of what really matters in a materialistic world like ours. Friends and family come first, in addition to an everyday careful examination of needs versus wants. Sure there's no need to watch the film, but you know you just want to. Enjoy this rom-com, and girls will find the numerous outfits here a thrill to drool over. At least those in my screening did!

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