Director: P.J. Hogan
Starring: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Krysten Ritter, Joan Cusack, John Goodman
Release: February 2009
I confess that I didn’t have much faith in either the book or the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic. Every time I saw one of the books in my local Target I rolled my eyes – I’ve never been a label girl, so going thousands of dollars into debt for shoes and scarves is outside my realm of experience. However, I found Rebecca Bloomwood to be engaging in the same vein as Bridget Jones, except with a collection of shopping bags instead of diet fads.
The drastic differences between the book and the movie make them hard to compare, although both have redeeming qualities (including a note to self: stay away from credit cards and sale racks!). In novel form, Shopaholic focuses on Bloomwood’s financial difficulties, but when translated to the big screen, you get much more of a romantic focus.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most obvious differences between the book and movie is the location. Kinsella’s Becky lives in Fulham, London, while the Rebecca portrayed on-screen by Isla Fisher lives in the bustling fashion center of Manhattan. She strolls down Fifth Avenue, welcomed and taunted by the store mannequins, while struggling to make her ends meet in the competitive publishing world.
Of course, the delightfully misguided Rebecca couldn’t live in either of these areas without her wealthy roommate, Suse. Suse helps cover the bills when Rebecca can’t; and on-screen, she even helps keep track of the innumerable excuses that Rebecca uses to dodge bill collectors. Amusingly enough, they keep a list on a fold-down ironing board.
Keep it in the family…
Kinsella uses her pages to introduce dozens of characters with complicated relationships and motives. We get to know Rebecca’s insecurities and flaws, in both the financial sector and her emotional life. Of course, most movies don’t have the budget for dozens of characters, so Hogan combines characters and plotlines. One major change is Tarquin (Nick Cornish): In Kinsella’s novel, Tarquin is Suse’s wealthy cousin (and one of London’s most eligible bachelors) who is infatuated with Rebecca. In a somewhat revolting turn of events, Hogan’s Tarquin is Suse’s fiancée. Of course, this means that Isla’s Rebecca can focus on Luke Brandon, her boss at Successful Savings, and of course her personal dire financial situation.
In another odd turn of events, rather than ruining the financial future of her parents neighbors with ill-advice, an anonymous article Rebecca writes inspires her parents to throw all of their retirement into an oversize RV. Since the neighbor’s ruin was Rebecca’s springboard to fame, her writing prowess as the “Girl in the Green Scarf” must take center stage.
It’s in the Bag
Of course, one of the major themes for both must be shopping. Otherwise, why would it be called Confessions of a Shopaholic? Rebecca’s shopping habit is downplayed in the novel – focusing more on her attempting to control it, and her career aspirations. In Manhattan, you can’t help but shop. The mannequins beacon to Rebecca despite both she and Suse’s best efforts. And true to the title, Rebecca goes to a shopaholic anonymous meeting at the request of Suse.
Overall, Rebecca’s a selfish girl who has to learn the hard way that her habits are not just detrimental to her pocket book, but to her relationships. She ruins dating relationships, some of the dreams of her parents, and nearly the relationship with her best friend. While neither the book nor the movie knocked my socks off, or sent me shopping, they were both enjoyable ways to pass a few hours.