Shopgirl (15)

PUBLISHED: 11:01 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

BACK in the 1980s, the arrival of a new Steve Martin film was a big event, something to be looked forward to. The wild and crazy guy star of films such as Roxanne and Dead Men Don t Wear Plaid was a leading light of cinema. Then it all went wrong - some

BACK in the 1980s, the arrival of a new Steve Martin film was a big event, something to be looked forward to. The 'wild and crazy guy' star of films such as Roxanne and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was a leading light of cinema.

Then it all went wrong - some of his movies became seriously syrupy and sentimental while the comedy stopped being funny. For years now, Steve Martin movies have been something to avoid.

It is therefore a pleasant surprise to say that Shopgirl is something of a return to form.

Adapted from a novella by Martin himself, but directed by Anand Tucker, it is a poignant romance with added funny bits, starring Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman and, inevitably considering his reputation, Martin himself.

Danes is a shy Vermont girl who has moved to Los Angeles but life in the big city has become a drudge as she struggles to make friends and pay off her student debt while working in a department store.

She has a vague relationship with Schwartzman's scruffy, socially inept, slacker but it is Martin as a smitten computer millionaire who tries to sweep her off her feet.

It's all very classily made with Danes giving a very appealing performance. Schwartzman is good too and the only thing wrong with Martin is that, in a Woody Allen-style, he comes across as a little too old for the role, even if he is a millionaire.

It's not a classic film but Shopgirl is a sophisticated and highly watchable piece of entertainment.

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