Actress Kristen Stewart and director Olivier Assayas didn’t let the boos that were heard after a Cannes Film Festival screening of their latest film “Personal Shopper” Monday dampen their moods at the press conference on Tuesday.
“When you come to Cannes you’re prepared for everything and you just go with the flow,” Assayas told journalists. “What is exciting about Cannes is yesterday no one had seen the film and today the whole world has seen it.” The psychological horror movie focuses on Stewart in the role of Maureen, a celebrity’s personal shopper and assistant who is trying to connect with the spirit of her recently deceased twin brother. Though Maureen seems to be engaging with a supernatural element in the movie, it’s unclear whether what she’s seeing is real or in her own head.
For Assayas, one of the challenges in crafting the story was connecting reality with imagination. “We live on both sides of that mirror,” he said. “We have our imagination and we have the people we lost, our memories, and it’s a very inhabited solitude. I think the character of Maureen in this film is looking for passages between those two worlds.”
Portraying Maureen required Stewart to express a combination of emotions at the same time, as her character finds herself seduced by the expensive clothes she buys as a part of her job while also being scared of ghosts that seem to be stalking her in multiple ways.
“Theres a lot of self hatred and really conflicted desires that go along with her attraction to the fashion industry and shiny things,” Stewart said. “She’s incredibly tactile and physical [and] it was fun to play somebody who was so capable.”
When Stewart and Assays were asked whether they believe in ghosts, both seemed to avoid saying no. “I’m really sensitive to energies and I truly believe I’m driven by something that I can’t really define,” Stewart said. “I can’t necessarily take responsibility for it and it gives me a feeling that we’re not necessarily alone.”
Though Assayas essentially dodged the question, he expressed his own conception of what ghosts mean to him.
“We use the word ghost to express a wide range of things,” he said. “We go to film festivals, but at the same time we have a deeper life that connects us with people from our past who really stay with us. It’s just that in today’s contemporary world people reject the idea.”