One of the first questions I had for Claire Danes was about her approach to actively playing an essentially passive woman as the title character in SHOPGIRL. This tale of love at cross-purposes in the sterile landscape of Los Angeles let Danes, star of the late, lamented “My So-Called Life” as well as such quirky flicks as the vastly underrated IGBY GOES DOWN, show a different facet of her talent as an entropic seller of gloves. When I spoke to her on October 10, 2005, she was much livelier. As for her answer, to that question, you’ll just have to listen for yourself.
Danes plays Mirabelle, the eponymous character, who minds the glove counter at an upscale department store where she meets Ray (Steve Martin), a wealthy man with whom she begins an affair. She’s also being wooed by Jeremy, played by Jason Schwartzman, an earnest young man who vows to change his aimless ways in order to make Mirabelle his own. There is throughout SHOPGIRL an overwhelming sense of the uneasiness each character feels to a greater or lesser degree as they grapple with the pursuit of happiness in Los Angeles. There is also an overweening sense of condescension when it comes to the social and economic gulf between Mirabelle and Ray where instead a sense of poignancy would have worked so much better. The question of where all this leads beyond a pat ending, and why we should be following, is never convincingly answered. As an anthropological study of the state of the male-female relationship in contemporary society. The film was directed by Anand Tucker from a script by Martin, which was based on his own novella of the same name.