Shopping: Movie Review
Cast: Kevin Paulo, Julian Dennison, Jacek Koman, Alistair Browning
Directors: Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland
From the writers of the award nominated The Six Dollar Fifty Man comes the first foray into feature film making.
It's New Zealand 1981 - a time of racial tensions between the Samoans and New Zealanders. Brothers Willie and Solomon are caught up in the middle of this in their own ways. Solomon, the youngest of the two, is lost in a world of his own and knows only the guiding light of his older brother, Willie. But Willie's on the verge of making his way into the real world, starting with driving lessons from his father Terry.
However, when Terry lets Willie down over the lessons, Willie's relationship with his father is strained. Tempted into a world of theft after a chance encounter with charismatic thief and immigrant Bennie (Koman), Willie discovers a family bond, lacking in his own life.
With the possibility of this surrogate father taking him in, Willie's keen to do anything to impress - but his immersion into Bennie's world sets him on a collision course with disaster.
Shopping is an at times, bleak and darkly put together film festival-like tale.
Beautifully shot (on the Kapiti coast) and wonderfully evocative of the era (the attention to period detail is stunning), it's a tale which takes a little while to unfold but when it finally does so, does very well.
It helps that the two young leads are gifted natural actors; Paulo, a first time actor, imbues Willie with a nuanced performance that's subtle and restrained. He manages to convey the inner turmoil and the mix of confusion and anger well without any real over-acting. Likewise, the young Dennison helps build a realistic bond with his brother which feels natural and warm.
Inevitably, the film follows the NZ norm and uncovers some nasty home truths of beatings and so on, but rather than over-indulge in that side of it, the story wisely veers away from indulging in the domestic issues (which aren't quite as strong as the other story threads) and concentrates on Willie's inauguration into the thieves' world. Though, it has ventured to the Sundance Festival this year and played there, which is extremely commendable.
A mix of meandering narrative in the early stages and tension set the scene well and when the final explosion comes as Willie's two worlds meet, you are gripped by what unfolds as the misery comes home to roost with a real blow to the senses.
Thankfully, the film wisely ends on the relationship between the two brothers - and it's a good choice to help cinemagoers leave with some form of optimism. Because the main heart of the film is this bond and it's in those moments that it brings something unique and magical to the screen.