Confessions of a Shopaholic

Fashion magnate Coco Chanel once declared that luxury is the opposite of vulgarity, but in the current Stateside economic climate such conspicuous consumption can seem somewhat tacky, or even a sign of mental psychosis, especially when a character opines, “No man will ever treat you as well as a store.” The film adaptation of Confessions of a Shopaholic, a bright, shiny bauble that serves as the leading lady debut of Isla Fisher, attempts to mitigate that conflict largely through a voluble charm offensive. But the end result is a manic and not entirely convincing romantic comedy in which there is no discernible difference between its characters drunk or sober.

Based on a series of best-selling books by Sophie Kinsella, the film stars Fisher as Rebecca Bloomwood, a spunky New York journalist with an unchecked addiction for expensive brand-name fashions and accoutrements. Drowning in more than $16,000 of credit card debt, Rebecca gets suddenly downsized, but ends up lucking her way into a gig at a financial magazine, where she charms the publication's earnest British editor, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), and becomes an overnight sensation with a common sense money column penned under the anonymous moniker “The Girl in the Green Scarf.” Against the backdrop of an array of recognizable supporting players, Rebecca expends a lot of energy trying to keep secret both her personal debt and general lack of knowledge of the world of finance. Eventually, though, the lies and games catch up with her.

Australian-born director P.J. Hogan (Muriel's Wedding) brings some of his trademark energy to the edges of scenes, most notably in interplay with Rebecca's proletarian parents (John Goodman and Joan Cusack) and other secondary players. But the overall tone is one of pitched mania; the entire movie feels hopped up on cough syrup. There seem to be no honest consequences to actions. If the well-worn direction of the plot generally fails her, certainly no shadow falls on Fisher. She proved herself a comedic force in Wedding Crashers and Definitely, Maybe, and here gets to showcase screwball line readings, a delightfully sunny persona and a deft touch with some physical slapstick. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Walt Disney, 104 minutes, PG)


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