Due to a combination of the Queen’s Birthday holiday, the annual life-swamp that is Rialto Channel 48HOURS, illness and a trip to Auckland for ONFILM magazine, there was no written review this week. As you might have noticed. This will have to do for the time being and normal service will be resumed on Monday.
Shopping (Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland) starts with archive television news footage of the infamous 1970s dawn raids, tooled-up cops breaking down doors to track down “overstayers”. As a scene-setter it’s impressive. It gives the film an immediate sense of menace but it doesn’t follow through – the cops never arrive and the threat of deportation back to the islands (like almost everything else in the film) is never discussed. So, narratively then, Shopping may disappoint but as a psychological portrait of alienated working class teenage life it excels.
Newcomer Kevin Paulo is Willie, stuck in a dead-end job dreaming of something better. His white father (Alistair Browning, often threatening but with a heart in the right place) wants him to work hard and get on while his Samoan mother Theresa (Maureen Fepuleai) wants him to behave himself and set a good example to younger brother Solomon (Julian Dennison). He does neither of those things and falls in with a bad crowd of local crims led by charismatic Bennie (Jacek Koman). In their world “shopping” means thievery and the adrenaline, the parties and beautiful Nicky (Laura Peterson) keep Willie away from his own home and a family that needs him more than he realises.
[pullquote]I wonder whether the world is ready for a Pakistani James Bond.[/pullquote]Shot with style – and a budget-protecting shallow focus – by Ginny Loane, Shopping leaves the audience with plenty of work to do – filling in the gaps – until it reaches a suitably enigmatic conclusion. Strong performances from seasoned pros and newcomers alike keep the tension up in individual scenes but I sometimes felt that the through-line was no more than a slender thread.