By Tim Johnson
Like any series of novels adapted to the big-screen, ”Confessions of a Shopaholic” has both the loyal readersâ€™ high expectations to live up to, and their devotion. While the film should keep most of Shopaholicâ€™s fans happy, itâ€™s broader box office appeal may not be quite as successful as a sale at Diane von Furstenberg (and that would be a good thing, so Iâ€™m told). However, the film is certainly an easy-to-watch one, and manages to relate all-too-well to a debt-ridden generation, which seems just a little contradictory to its title.
The film adaptation conjoins both the first novel, â€˜Confessions of a Shopaholicâ€™, and the second, â€˜Shopaholic Takes Manhattanâ€™, both of which are written by New York Times best-selling author, Sophie Kinsella. The film takes place in New York City and follows Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), a journalist with ambitions of working at the prestigious â€˜Allureâ€™ fashion magazine, who finds herself ironically, stumbling in to a position at Allureâ€™s sister publication, â€˜Successful Savingsâ€™. Ironically, because of Beckyâ€™s frivolous spending habits that finds her in a situation with thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt, which she is incapable of paying off. Knowing her financial situation, with the help of her loyal and lovable friend, Suze (Krysten Ritter), Becky still canâ€™t resist walking past a sale at Denny and George where she sees, and buys an expensive (albeit on-sale) green scarf, effectively reaching the limit of her bag full of credit cards, and then some.
The green scarf does pay some dividends for Becky though, who, with absolutely no financial knowledge, manages to break down the world of finance into simplistic metaphors (mostly to do with fashion), which strikes a chord with readers and gives birth to the column, â€˜The Girl In The Green Scarfâ€™. Beckyâ€™s need to shop leads to her to â€˜bend the truthâ€™ to an ever-nearing debt collector, Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton), and her â€˜Successful Savingsâ€™ boss, and love interest, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), to avoid the humiliation of her secret-debt problem surfacing. The climbing of Beckyâ€™s career is always offset by Derek Smeathâ€™s pursuit, which engrains Beckyâ€™s embarrassment and is highlighted by her attendance to Shopaholics Anonymous.
The timing of the filmâ€™s release is both ironic, and particularly relatable. While the film began production well before the world financial crisis, Beckyâ€™s problem with debt is one that is all too familiar with the audience. And luckily for the filmmakers, itâ€™s Beckyâ€™s struggle to deal with the debt, that allows the audience to relate. A film about frivolous and indulgent spending, would almost surely been a guaranteed failure in this economic climate.
Considering Becky Bloomwood is a character who lies to her editor and love interest to cover her spending habits, and who is completely absorbed in consuming designer clothes she clearly doesnâ€™t need, Isla Fisher (”Definitely, Maybe”, ”Wedding Crashers”) magically creates a loveable Rebecca Bloomwood, and manages to allow the audience to forgive any of Beckyâ€™s flaws (and she has many). Islaâ€™s co-star, Hugh Dancy counteracts Islaâ€™s bouncy energy with an English charm, to create a balanced and sincere chemistry between the two characters, which peaks with the pairâ€™s business trip to Miami.
Veteran â€˜chick flickâ€™ director P.J. Hogan (”My Best Friendâ€™s Wedding”, ”Murielâ€™s Wedding”) creates a vibrant (although sometimes cheesy) energy throughout the film. Where one might draw comparisons to ”Sex & the City” (which also features shopping and New York City heavily), Hogan highlights elements of New York that â€˜Sexâ€™ omitted, namely inside itâ€™s designer stores. Creating a fantasy like experience as Becky shops, often appears over-the-top, however Beckyâ€™s addiction is also nothing short of, over-the-top. Legendary costume designer Patricia Field (”Sex & the City”) adds a flair that you would expect of Becky, and adds to the bright, vibrant nature of the film.
While the movie is certainly not groundbreaking, there is little to hate, or love, about ”Confessions of a Shopaholic”. The film is certainly watchable though, and if youâ€™re in the mood for a bright, colourful, easy to watch film, then this may be the film. And if youâ€™re a fan of Kinsellaâ€™s novels, the film wonâ€™t disappoint, as Isla Fisher flawlessly brings Becky Bloomwood to life on the big screen.
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