Confessions of a Shopaholic

UK release date: 20 February 2009

cast list

Isla Fisher
Hugh Dancy
Krysten Ritter
Joan Cusack
John Goodman

directed by
PJ Hogan
Confessions of a Shopaholic is everywhere: its on every poster in every shopping centre and retail outlet because mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer doesnt do things by halves. Confessions is the first rom com/ chick flick from the Bruckheimer money-making machine and on paper might have been a bit of a gamble for the blockbuster-maestro.

In truth, Confessions is just like National Treasure or Pirates of the Caribbean big, brash, colourful, loud, uncomplicated and easy to watch. But if you hadnt guessed, this film is aimed at WOMEN: not in the sensitive, touchy-feely kind of way, but in the hysterical-screaming, crazy-zany, oestrogen-overload kind of way. So if you have any testosterone in your system, consider this your official Confessions of a Shopaholic health warning.

The film is an adaptation of the internationally best-selling set of books, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella. The screenplay by Tim Firth and Tracey Jackson is undeniably funny with lots of laugh-out-loud one-liners and just as many squirm-in-your-seat, Bridget-Jones-on-crack madcap moments.

The film revolves around the life, loves and adventures of Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), a fun-loving, Dior-dedicated young journalist working in New York. She is bright, bubbly and smart but when it comes to shopping, this girl just cant say no. Her love of Louboutin has led her to max out all her credit cards and rack up of thousands of dollars of debt.

Her whole happiness and survival rests entirely on getting a dream job at high-end fashion magazine Allette. On the way to the interview Becky gets distracted by a beautiful green scarf; she doesnt have enough credit left on her numerous cards, so she is forced to borrow $20 from a random passer-by to buy the scarf. Unfortunately by the time she arrives for the interview, the job has already been filled internally. Desperate to get in at all costs, she goes for a job at a bland financial magazine where it turns out the editor is a $20 scarf benefactor, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy).

Against all odds, Becky gets the job and is accidentally (and ironically) reincarnated as a savvy financial advice columnist, going under the pseudonym of the Girl in the Green Scarf. As Becky goes from strength to strength offering accessible real-world metaphors for boring financial difficulties, her past is catching up with her. Becky has her very own evil debt collector who threatens to ruin everything. As her career blossoms, so does the romance but with all those skeletons in Beckys designer closet, the course of true love is unlikely to run smoothly.

Confessions is directed with energy and enthusiasm by Australian filmmaker PJ Hogan who brought us cheesy classics such as Muriels Wedding and My Best Friends Wedding. The film boasts an impressive cast with Joan Cusack and John Goodman as Beckys thrifty parents. John Lithgow plays the head of the magazine corporation and as always his comic timing is just right. Kristen Scott Thomas is delightfully camp as the hopelessly glamorous, fabulously French magazine editor, Allette Naylor.

But naturally its Isla Fisher, as the zany Becky, who steals the show. She is fearless and throws herself (literally in some cases) into the comedy, tottering the fine line between sweet and saccharine/ bubbly and exhausting with surprising success. It is because of Fishers unexpectedly sympathetic and human portrayal of the well-meaning Becky that many women will find her difficulties quite familiar.

As plots go, this is not exactly going to be The Usual Suspects, the film sticks strictly to the formula but what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in execution. The film totters along at a pleasing pace; it is slick and easy on the eye. Patricia Fields, the costume designer for Sex in the City and The Devil Wears Prada once again works her magic to ensure that the outfits stay on the cute-side of outrageous.

In so many ways this film is insulting to womens intellect and physically nauseating to most heterosexual men. Watching Confessions is like being beaten over the head repeatedly with a large humour club: you will laugh (whack), this is funny (whack). Unnervingly however, many of the situations are actually quite well-observed and often true to life; women will identify with a lot of the Beckys sentiments if not to the extremes that she goes. So if you want Sex in the City meets Bad Boys with the girl from Home and Away then this is absolutely for you. Otherwise, you have been warned.

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