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Confessions of a Shopaholic [DVD]

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By Tim Johnson

Like any series of novels adapted to the big-screen, ”Confessions of a Shopaholic” has both the loyal readers’ high expectations to live up to, and their devotion. While the film should keep most of Shopaholic’s fans happy, it’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 I’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, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’, and the second, ‘Shopaholic Takes Manhattan’, 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 ‘Allure’ fashion magazine, who finds herself ironically, stumbling in to a position at Allure’s sister publication, ‘Successful Savings’. Ironically, because of Becky’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 can’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, ‘The Girl In The Green Scarf’. Becky’s need to shop leads to her to ‘bend the truth’ to an ever-nearing debt collector, Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton), and her ‘Successful Savings’ boss, and love interest, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), to avoid the humiliation of her secret-debt problem surfacing. The climbing of Becky’s career is always offset by Derek Smeath’s pursuit, which engrains Becky’s embarrassment and is highlighted by her attendance to Shopaholics Anonymous.

The timing of the film’s release is both ironic, and particularly relatable. While the film began production well before the world financial crisis, Becky’s problem with debt is one that is all too familiar with the audience. And luckily for the filmmakers, it’s Becky’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 doesn’t need, Isla Fisher (”Definitely, Maybe”, ”Wedding Crashers”) magically creates a loveable Rebecca Bloomwood, and manages to allow the audience to forgive any of Becky’s flaws (and she has many). Isla’s co-star, Hugh Dancy counteracts Isla’s bouncy energy with an English charm, to create a balanced and sincere chemistry between the two characters, which peaks with the pair’s business trip to Miami.

Veteran ‘chick flick’ director P.J. Hogan (”My Best Friend’s Wedding”, ”Muriel’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 ‘Sex’ omitted, namely inside it’s designer stores. Creating a fantasy like experience as Becky shops, often appears over-the-top, however Becky’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 you’re in the mood for a bright, colourful, easy to watch film, then this may be the film. And if you’re a fan of Kinsella’s novels, the film won’t disappoint, as Isla Fisher flawlessly brings Becky Bloomwood to life on the big screen.

Extras

Deleted Scenes, A Music Video, and some Bloopers.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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