Making the Grades
There are nothing like the letters S-A-L-E to send a shopaholic charging through the inviting doors of a department store. For some, the smell of Italian leather, the sparkle of a new watch or the luxury of a cashmere sweater is too much to resist, although their closet is already stuffed to capacity. Even an excess of less lavish purchases can be a problem for many consumers.
Unfortunately the urge to splurge and the bait of minimal monthly payments has left journalist Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) with a mound of merchandise and a huge balance on her credit card. Unable to confess her addiction to her financially frugal parents (Joan Cusack, John Goodman) or a credit counselor, Rebecca and roommate Suze (Krysten Ritter) drown their worries in a bottle of tequila while opening her growing pile of bills. They also develop an intricate web of lies to avoid the incessant calls of the city debt collector (Robert Stanton).
In the meantime, Rebecca unintentionally gets a job at a financial magazine. Writing a story that explains investments in shopping terms, she becomes an instant sensation with readers of the stuffy periodical. Yet all that money talk—and a membership in a shopaholics anonymous group—does little to curb her desire to spend. As her success soars under the pen name The Lady in the Green Silk Scarf, so does the difficulty of confessing her compulsion to her boss Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy).
However, as to be expected, the truth comes out at the most awkward moment. With her personal foibles publicly exposed, this up-and-coming journalist is forced to face the brunt of her buying obsession.
Doubtless there will be more than one audience member who can relate to Rebecca’s love of shopping and the high that comes with a new purchase. Fortunately the plot doesn’t waver when it comes to the consequences. Leaving her to suffer the pang of buyer’s remorse allows this heroine to confront the reality of her situation and the pain that her lies have caused for herself and others as well.
Rounded out with engaging secondary characters and storylines, the film questions the things we allow to define us, be it a family name, labels or the number of toys we own. Making an equally bold statement in this era of economic downturn, the mannequins in the windows of an Yves Saint Laurent storefront and an Asprey boutique applaud Rebecca’s effort to refuse their lures.
While it all wraps up rather neatly and predictably, Confessions of a Shopaholic offers a plentitude of thought provoking insights into the current credit crisis and the reality of shopping addictions. Yet it manages to do so in a manner that is both entertaining and encouraging.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Although Rebecca is obsessed with having the right label on her clothes, Luke doesn’t want to be defined by brands or his family name. What things do you allow to define you? How do you identify cost versus worth when it comes to financial decisions?
While Rebecca finds an answer to her money woes, how might that solution contribute to the ongoing financial problems of others? What kinds of help are available to people facing debt or credit problems? What is the difference between a shopping spree and an addiction?
Although Rebecca was raised by financially frugal parents, her approach to money is far different from theirs. What childhood experiences impacted her feelings about buying? How can people’s upbringing influence, either one way or the other, their attitudes about spending?
With the country and individuals facing a credit crisis, the National Endowment of Financial Education has launched a new website designed to help shopaholics and others deal with debt and shopping sprees. For information on how to curtail your retail hangover check out Spendster.org.