From the director of the documentary We Are X comes this nostalgic tale amplified by the music of legendary 80’s band The Smiths.
It is 1987 and Cleo is a supermarket worker in Denver, Colorado who spends her off-time going to the local record store run by Dean where she tends to do a little shoplifting. Her favorite band is The Smiths, led by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. Cleo has a liking with Dean, who like her, is a huge Smiths fan. However, Cleo’s world is turned upside down when she comes home to hear on the radio that The Smiths have broken up.
Cleo finds solace in best friend Sheila, Sheila’s boyfriend Patrick, and other friend Billy, who secretly harbors a crush on her. As the four decide to go out and party to take their minds off the insane news, Dean takes drastic measures. Armed with a pistol, he goes to the local rock station, led by DJ Full Metal Mickey, and forces him to play The Smiths’ music at gunpoint. When Cleo learns what Dean has done, she is both shocked and in awe. In the course of this one night, lives are destined to change forever.
I am a sucker for 80’s set dramas that brings the style and nostalgia of one of the greatest decades ever. Last year’s 18 to Party was the love child of John Hughes and Richard Linklater. Stephen Kijak, the man behind the amazing documentary We Are X (about Japanese music gods X Japan), co-wrote and directed this homage to The Smiths which can be described as a meshing of Richard Linklater and the movie Airheads with The Smiths front and center in terms of their music. The title itself comes from one of their songs and the “chapters”, or “sides”, are named after songs from the band. Kijak also added real interview footage of the band, showcasing his love of documentaries and music given his previous work.
The eclectic cast helps drive the film and they are amazing. Helena Howard’s Cleo is the dreamer who pines of getting out of a dead-end job in Denver and pretends to have a French boyfriend as a means to escape the reality that dwells her. Ellar Contrane’s Dean is the embittered record store worker who goes to extremes to make sure his favorite band gets the proper sendoff. This leads to taking a metal DJ hostage and forcing him to play The Smiths all night. Joe Manganiello is great as the impassioned metal DJ who goes from hostage to someone who respects Dean and his love of music as it reminds him of himself. The two soon find themselves going from hostage and kidnapper to respected allies.
As for Cleo’s three friends who journey with her on this night of partying, the three are all eclectic in their roles. Nick Krause’s Billy is the one who has this secret crush on Cleo and in a tense moment, finds himself not only shot down but sees himself trying to get attention especially because his introduction in the film is a bit cringeworthy. Let’s just say you will think Billy with balloons as Jim with pie.
Elena Kampouris channels her inner Madonna in the role of Sheila, who while heartbroken over The Smiths, finds herself pining for attention when it comes to her boyfriend Patrick, played by James Bloor. Bloor, who horror fans will remember as psychopath Ike in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel Leatherface, plays Patrick as a very strange fellow who we later learn has a bit of a secret that could damage his relationship with Sheila. A house party and a nightclub may be the game changers for the couple.
Shoplifters of the Night is a 80’s Richard Linklater meets Airheads with The Smiths at the center of the film, through their music. Driven by a young eclectic cast, this film is for both fans of the band as well as those who love a good nostalgic film.
WFG RATING: B
RLJE Films presents an Oscura Film in association with 3:59 and Untitled Entertainment. Director: Stephen Kijak. Producers: Lorianne Hall, Phil Hoelting, Joe Manganiello, Nick Manganiello, Laura Rister, Adam Schoon, and Marco Vicini. Writers: Stephen Kijak and Lorianne Hall. Cinematography: Andrew Wheeler. Editing: Fabienne Bouville and Yaniv Dabach.
Cast: Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon, Joe Manganiello, Tonatiuh, Camerone Moulene, Olivia Luccardi, Celia Au, Abby Awe, Imani Lewis.