(R) 4 Stars

Mirabelle (Claire Danes) works the glove counter of a swank L.A. department store. She moved to California to become an artist but her creativity has stalled. Now she's selling gloves and living in a lonely apartment with her cat.

At a Laundromat she meets Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a scruffy slacker who is a tad forward, but nice enough, even if he does ask for a kiss at the end of the first date. The couple is going through the awkward getting-to-know-you phase when wealthy businessman Ray Porter (Steve Martin) enters Mirabelle's world. Claire Danes

Shopgirl is a smart and touching screwball comedy not dumbed down for the mall crowd. Based on a book by Steve Martin (who also wrote the screenplay) and directed by Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie), this could have been just another routine romantic comedy. Here, everyone hits the right note.

This is the best performance by Claire Danes in a long time. Lately she's either done small films that not a lot of people have seen (Polish Wedding, Stage Beauty) or films like The Mod Squad and Terminator 3 ('nuff said).

There's excellent chemistry between Danes, Schwartzman and Martin. This is the kind of performance from Jason Schwartzman that folks know and like: It's Rushmore and I Heart Huckabees territory. This will hopefully keep him from a future of smarmy or wise apple assistants or agents (Bewitched).

This is also the best film Steve Martin has been in in a long time. It's nice to see him in a film that's not a remake (Cheaper By The Dozen, Sgt. Bilko and we still have The Pink Panther to look forward to). He's been able to show off his serious side before (Grand Canyon, The Spanish Prisoner) and it's refreshing to see it again. Could this do for Martin what Lost In Translation did for Bill Murray? Stay tuned.

Shopgirl will give filmgoers flashbacks of Rushmore and Lost In Translation. That's also a good thing. Shopgirl is in that league.

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