Written by: Tim Firth & Tracey Jackson
Starring: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, Kristin Scott Thomas
Nearly everyone will do stupid things with money in their lives. Unless they are given the proper education from the onset, it will occur because there are a plethora of ways we can reach financial pitfalls. Credit cards always find a way to contribute somehow, as what occurs in the incredibly flawed but ultimately very enjoyable feature, Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Falling in love with fashion from a young age, Rebecca (Isla Fisher) has lived her life going from sale to sale picking up whatever designer clothing she can collect. Upon missing out on working for a coveted fashion magazine, Rebecca settles for applying her trade for a sister magazine focusing on financial savings. Through this period, she learns more about her obsession with material possessions along with that she truly values in life.
Life presents us with wants and needs for survival. Rebecca finds herself with a good portion of the American population, who cannot differentiate between the two. She maxes out each credit card to their limit and finds a way to collect as much designer clothing as she can because it brings her happiness. Her obsession with fashion appears at the very beginning of the film where she walks into a store in complete shock of the beauty around her, which seems out of reach financially, but ultimately possible with the use of a credit card. She then learns she can obtain everything she could have ever dreamed of owning by the simple use of this card, which balloons into a nightmare for her. It makes it all the more hilarious that she ends up working for a money savings magazine. The irony is not lost in the film, which contributes to it being such a fun experience.
Confessions of a Shopaholic runs the gamut of romantic comedy cliches, but it succeeds because of the performance given by Isla Fisher. Point blank, she makes this film work when most other actors would have failed. She always utilizes an unhinged and manic approach to her performances, which has garnered her praise in films like Wedding Crashers and Bachelorette but she takes center stage in this movie and she shines in the role. Despite the faults of this character, Rebecca remains someone you can easily root for because of her heart and her struggle to get better. At times, she puts obtaining the latest Gucci sweater over her important relationships, but she still has a good heart. Part of it comes from the ridiculousness of this character and how unbelievably committed she seems to be about the fashion game. Fisher plays up these tendencies to an extraordinary degree where she balances the level of crazy needed for the role and maintaining her level of charm throughout.
Through its silly content, this film also presents a circumstance many Americans find themselves in. While Rebecca focuses on fashion, most American families live paycheck to paycheck and some find themselves this way because they incessantly spend their money on wants as compared to needs. You see this with the expensive cars they cannot afford and a mortgage way beyond what they should be using from their monthly income. With gadgets getting more expensive by the year as technology continues to advance, people continually purchase things they cannot afford due to the consumerist culture we live in. People buy things they cannot afford to impress others, which ends up hurting them later in life when they find themselves in a similar circumstance as Rebecca: Broke and in debt to the point where collection agents are chasing her down.
The film shows Rebecca finding a rock bottom and then putting things back together as most romantic-comedies do but the learning experience becomes vital for the protagonist. The mixing of the lesson while still maintaining her zaniness becomes critical to this film maintaining its tone throughout. The silliness never ceases despite the crippling debt she accrues and the devastating results when her house of cards eventually comes crumbling down. On this fine line is where the film succeeds despite its flaws, the message remains strong yet very light as well.
With loads of fun sequences and a lead with plenty of energy, Confessions of a Shopaholic brings a delightful experience to the screen. It has several genuinely hilarious moments while showing the dangers of indulging in the “wants” in life rather than what truly holds value. The film shows the personal journey of Rebecca and adds in an adorable love story for good measure.