Imagine it’s 2009 and as a kid, you’ve got your beady eyes glued to the TV while eagerly anticipating for the next programme to be televised. So it goes, the opening credits for the film titled ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ start rolling in, all the while you hear Isla Fisher in her role narrating the resume of her life in the background:

“Rebecca Bloomwood. Occupation: Journalist. Jacket: Visa. Dress: AMEX. Belt: MasterCard. It’s vintage. And I got one percent cash back. Bag: Gucci! And worth every penny.”

Little did I know by the end of the film, it would have left a profound effect which would then be carried through every waking moment of my life – living merely on the dialogues from the film I had committed to memory. O.K. I must confess it is not earth shattering as I paint it to be, however, it is definitely within the vicinity of a life defining moment.

(source: Screen Queens)

To catch you up to speed with the plot of this film (in case your memory is a little hazy or worse, you have never even heard of or watch this film), her name is Rebecca Bloomwood and she is a shopaholic. Think shopping as an extreme sport or better, an Olympic race and her constant purchases are the gold medals while the credit card bills are her hurdles. Her life mantra?

“You see, a man will never love you or treat you as well as a store. If a man doesn’t fit, you can’t exchange him seven days later for a gorgeous cashmere sweater.”

She aspires to write for Alette, the equivalent of Vogue in this fictitious cinematic world but she is stuck squandering her talent at a lousy gardening magazine that is incidentally due for a closure. With no source of income, sixteen thousand twelve hundred and 62 dollars and 70 cents in debt, and the debt collector breathing down her neck, she abruptly descends from cloud nine to her terrible reality.

(source: Hit The Floor)

Despite being trapped in a quagmire, Rebecca partially picks herself up with a job she accidentally obtained in a finance magazine. The irony of it all is that she begins advising people on how to handle money, albeit penning her pieces regarding monetary themes so remarkably till she eventually acquired the famous pseudonym of, “The Girl in the Green Scarf”. This becomes the very fibre of her existence since the infamous green scarf is one of the reasons she landed her latest job. Still, Rebecca is a spendthrift and her habits are due for a major overhaul. She equates the satisfaction in life with her constant need to shop because she says:

“When I shop, the world gets better, the world is better. And then it’s not anymore, and I need to do it again.”

Yet, the world around her starts falling apart because the little white lies she sweeps under the rug has run out of their leases and she quickly realizes her clothes will not be there to salvage her when everything comes crashing down. With the timely arrival of the epiphany, she expresses her newly gain insights in “The Girl in the Green Scarf” way. She notes in her column:

“Your store card is like a 50 percent-off cashmere coat. The first time you meet, it promises to be your best friend. Until you look closely and realize it’s not real cashmere. You’ve been ripped off. Then, as winter comes, you discover that your coat isn’t actually a friend at all. You should have read the fine print. Should look more closely what you’re getting into.”

(source: Slant Magazine)

In the climax, she gets fired from her latest full-time employment, her best friend resigns from the title, and the guy she likes is not too pleased about the lies either, so to quote Luke Brandon (played by Hugh Dancy), “Oh, Ms. Bloomwood, you have had a very, very tough 25 minutes.” But as far as film plots goes, Rebecca ultimately redeems herself through staging a clothes sale – an idea she conceived during a meeting in Shopaholic Anonymous. In the end, she mends her relationship with her best friend, beau, and not forgetting: her addiction. At long last, she manages to overthrow her temptations but not without learning a few hard lessons in her yellow brick road journey to atonement.

(source: Plugged In)

Tuning in as a juvenile, I never really grasp the message behind the film but as I am gradually greeted by adulthood, I began viewing this film in a completely new light. I am fully aware it is not that deep (maybe to some it is not deep at all), however, the film does carry its weight in conveying the point Confessions of a Shopaholic is making. Number one: do not be a label whore or let labels and clothes define your life. Number two: costs and worth are very different things, just like price and value or quality as opposed to quantity. Number three: credit cards are not, in the word of Rebecca “magic cards”. Neither is it good for the soul especially when you are shopaholic because she ended up with 12 of them with debts to match it with. Well, the last one applies if the shoe fits.

Is it a great film? No. But it is a bloody good movie that never gets out of fashion.

Leave a comment