is a quiet kind of kid. The patriarch of
a roving band of thieves can envision useful roles for him. The allure of their outlaw lifestyle will
test his bond with his younger brother in Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland’s
Shopping, which screens
during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City.
a wave of race riots still fresh in New Zealand's public memory, half-Samoan Willie’s
domineering Anglo father insists he keep his head down and nose to the
grindstone. Working part-time in the
local department store, the young man confronts Bennie, a flagrant shoplifter,
who somehow still slips away like the old pro he clearly is. Later outside, he offers Willie a bit of
consideration the honest lad duly refuses.
Not so the next time. After a few
parties and few capers, Willie is definitely considering throwing in his lot
with the “shoppers.” Yes, Bennie also
has a daughter who makes a strong impression on Willie. Unfortunately, showing interest in her can be
a dicey proposition.
addition to the Oliver Twisty story,
Albiston & Sutherland also depict the unusual close relationship between
Willie and his sibling. Instead of
resenting all the time he must spend with the physically and socially awkward
Solomon, Willie is a genuinely protective and indulgent older brother, to an
extent not often seen on film.
a young actor, Kevin Paulo is a surprisingly effective slow burner. As Willie, he dramatically conveys how
tightly wound and conflicted the pre-teen is.
Likewise, Jacek Koman is both roguishly charming and downright menacing
as Bennie. Unfortunately, Willie’s
erratic father and passive mother are essentially stock figures.
is three parts coming-of-age story and one part crime drama. Albiston & Sutherland handle the material
with great sensitivity, but a bit more humor in the mix would have helped counter-balance
the heavy, naturalistic atmosphere. Recommended
for those who appreciate sibling stories with a thin layer of social
commentary, Shopping screens again in
Park City today (1/19), Thursday (1/24), and Friday (1/25), as well as in Salt
Lake on Sunday (1/20) as part of this year’s Sundance.
Labels: Coming of age films, New Zealand cinema, Sundance '13