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Steve Martin

Shopgirl

DISTRIB/RELEASE DATE: Touchstone Pictures, Oct. 21

CATEGORY: adapted, from Martin’s novella

STORYLINE: An aspiring artist, Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes), languishes behind the gloves and accessories counter of a department store by day and paints by night. Wooed by two men, the wealthy, urbane and older Ray Porter (Steve Martin) and a struggling young musician, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), she must make a choice.

ABOUT THE SCRIPT: A sometimes whimsical, sometimes melancholy love story framed like a fractured fairy tale. The voiceover, by Martin, is neither narration nor exposition. “I first wrote the script with no voiceover, just to make sure it can be done,” Martin says. “I generally don’t like voiceover as exposition because I don’t think anyone is listening. In the film, it’s all lyrical rather than expository and always happens over stillness. It’s meant to be like chapters — the voiceover buttons the various chapters.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “There was very little dialogue in the book and a lot of information is presented in an omniscient, internal way to illustrate the character’s psychology. In a screenplay, obviously, you need dialogue that reveals character.”

FAVORITE SCENE: “People don’t think of it as a scene — it’s the opening shot, macro-close-ups of the cosmetics counter at Saks. It’s where we are, in this kind of gleaming cosmetic world. Then, as the camera pans up from the floor, it gets sparser and sparser.”

CHOICE LINES: “I find the ending of the movie very powerful. It’s such a loaded scene, where two people who were extremely intimate are seeing each other again and possibly for the last time, and their dialogue is very casual but loaded. And finally he tells her he’s sorry for the way he treated her. It makes her break down.”

WRITER’S BIO: Martin started his career as a standup comedian and performer, and has numerous credits as an actor and writer. A frequent contributor to the New Yorker, he has penned features including “Bowfinger,” “L.A. Story,” “The Jerk,” “The Man With Two Brains” and “Roxanne.”

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