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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 12:29 am | Fair 44º

 
 
 
 

Cinema In Focus: ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’

Shopping is not usually viewed as an addiction, but when linked to some unfulfilled goals and unmet needs it can become debilitating.

3 Stars –– Thought Provoking

Addictions destroy men and women of any means and at any stage of their life. Shopping till you drop doesn’t strike most people as a life-threatening disease, but living in debt is debilitating. Such is the life of Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) in Confessions of a Shopaholic.

On the surface, this is a simple film filled with cute melodramas. But beneath this light-hearted entertainment, is a moral tale that should be viewed by all young people who spend money on themselves in order to boost their self esteem.

Rebecca lives in New York City and longs to work for a glamour magazine, which is the talk of all fashionable women. Even though she cannot afford it, Rebecca has turned her living space into a warehouse of unused clothes, shoes, purses and accessories. As a result of these spending sprees, she cannot afford her apartment, so her best friend, Suze (Krysten Ritter), takes her in with the killing kindness familiar to any enabler.

Rebecca’s longing to work in the fashion industry takes her on a path through other journalistic endeavors, ending up with an opportunity to work for a money management magazine owned by the same company publishing her favorite fashion bible. It is here that she meets and falls in love with Luke (Hugh Dancy). Luke is the vibrant young editor who has been brought into the stodgy company to bring it new life. Taken with Rebecca’s colorful analogies of the fashion industry during her commentaries on financial matters, Luke recognizes she is a complete contradiction to what the magazine recommends in terms of money management.

To everyone’s amazement, Rebecca becomes a hit in the publishing world. No one is more surprised than her parents, Jane (Joan Cusack) and Graham Bloomwood (John Goodman), who have been saving every dime they have made throughout their entire lives. As Rebecca gains her long-sought fame, her parents and girlfriend are proud of her and she has her dreamboat boss in love with her, but she wonders: Why aren’t I happy?

The one nemesis she has to face is the unrelenting bill collector who hounds her to repay the thousands of dollars she owes on her credit cards. Suze gets a commitment from Rebecca to attend Shopaholics Anonymous, but like most addicts in the beginning stages, she lies to her and insists she is attending when instead she is out buying new clothes.

The sadness of living with someone who is an addict is that they can be charming, witty, loving — and still lie through their teeth. Their addition leads to the destruction of everything they desire in their lives. Rebecca’s lies eventually take their toll, and everyone who means anything to her is damaged in the process. The cute and fashionable Rebecca has turned into lonely, exposed and damaged goods.

The choices Rebecca makes at each stage of her young life are a great teaching moment for all young people who think that what is on the outside defines who they are on the inside. Ultimately, Rebecca needed to decide what was important to her and realized she couldn’t do that alone. You will have to see the movie to know whether there is a happy ending.

What is clear is that the question of what defines us is not what we wear or what we own. Personal satisfaction is the byproduct of a life lived in honesty and transparency. Anything else will ultimately cause us to lose the very love and support that was already within our grasp.

Discussion:

» Have you ever struggled with an addiction? How did you become free of its grasp?

» Rebecca did not realize that trying to become what the glamour magazine presented was an illusion. Have you ever been deceived in such a manner? What finally opened your eyes?

» The tendency in life is to define ourselves and others by what is seen on the outside. How do you overcome that tendency?

Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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