In this era of responsibility and with finances on the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, it’s always a pleasant surprise when a film comes out to capture the zeitgeist. That film is Confessions of a Shopaholic presented by Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer. While the title may mislead some into thinking the movie is about rabid consumerism, the story is actually quite the opposite.
Based on two books in the Shopaholic series penned by Sophie Kinsella, Confessions follows Rebecca Bloomwood as she attempts to cope with her shopping addiction while pursuing her dreams of becoming a writer for a premier fashion magazine. Ironically, she’s forced to take a position as a staff writer for a financial magazine in order to build a name for herself. As she doles out financial advice, Bloomwood is forced to keep her reckless spending and $16,000 of credit card debt a secret to maintain her credibility.
Recently, Touchstone Pictures held a Press conference for Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the cast and crew were available for interviews. Isla Fisher tackled the early question about the film’s timeliness. “Obviously this movie was conceived in a different economic period,” Fisher said, “and the lessons Rebecca Bloomwood learns in the movie we have all been learning recently. So it feels very topical. I’m really proud of the responsible way we handled it at the end of the movie.”
Director P.J. Hogan shared one of his early experiences with credit cards that helped him identify with Rebecca Bloomwood. “When I was young,” he said, “I got into big trouble with credit cards and I actually had a humiliating experience where somebody cut my credit card in half in front of me and I felt so ashamed.” So while the film is literally dressed in opulence, there’s a very practical, grass roots message to balance out the designer clothing.
To that end, a few of the cast members remarked on what clothing items break down their frugal will. “I like a nice coat,” admitted Krysten Ritter who plays best friend Suze, “like a great French coat with a big collar.”
Fisher was a little more practical. “There’s nothing really material that I can’t pass by, except maybe underwear. Out of necessity, regular underwear. Not such a good look.”
Hugh Dancy, who plays Rebecca Bloomwood’s workaholic boss, added that the clothes help him get into character. “In the same way that getting ready to go out for an evening is like donning your armor. It makes a difference, even if it’s just a nice suit or even finding the appropriate schlubby suit.” Don’t be fooled, however, Dancy also looks great in a tuxedo and as the romantic lead straight man to Fisher’s comic protagonist.
“I think it’s very hard to make romantic comedies,” says Hogan, “I think they’re a really, really tough genre. I was very lucky. I had the books. I thought if I can capture that off-the-wall humor, that eccentric spirit that informs Sophie’s writing then maybe we’ll have something.” Of course it didn’t hurt that he had a wonderful cast to work with, allowing him to create a film that doesn’t cheat audiences by going easy on the comedy.
Fisher gets to strut her comedic stuff, performing genuinely funny bits, like her fan-dance with romantic lead Hugh Dancy. “It’s always been a comic dream of mine to attempt to seduce a man with a dance that’s actually repulsive.” She bashfully admits “they were all my own moves. Personally, I’ve always been someone who’s loved to tap into their inner idiot and I’ve always been the clown of my family. I’ve always enjoyed mucking about and I’m just fortunate enough that I get paid to do that now.”
Considering the genre that Confessions of a Shopaholic falls under, some moviegoers may have trouble associating it with Jerry Bruckheimer who is mostly regarded for his action films. “It’s all about the character and the screenplay. You get everything to tell a good story. I do love the character. Becky Bloomwood is such a unique, fresh, interesting young girl. I think it’s empowerment for women.”
Having seen the film and gauging the reaction of the women next to me during the screener, I tend to agree with Jerry Bruckheimer. Look for my full review of Confessions of a Shopaholic when the film is released on February 13.