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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Lenny: Hang on, hang on. If you've been out of a job for two weeks, how come you're still hanging around with us acquaintances?
DVD ReviewLate Night Shopping is a comedy in the vein of other Gen-Xer titles like Reality Bites, Slacker, and Clerks. Set on the other side of the Atlantic, the script relays the happenings of four twenty-something adults who meet up at an all night café between their shifts. Like the above mentioned movies, Late Night Shopping has a fresh feel accentuated by its low budget; and also like those movies, it inevitably suffers from being the work of young filmmakers who employ too many gimmicks for their own good.
In an unnamed Scottish city, four English youths (at least judging by their accents they seem to be English) are stuck working the graveyard shift of their dead-end jobs. Vincent (James Lance) works as a grocery stock boy, but spends his free time seeking casual sex. Lenny (Enzo Cilenti) works in communications as a telephone operator, and suffers from "porno reactions" when he sees attractive women. Just what is a "porno reaction?" Evidently it is something that happens to men like Lenny, who spend ten years writing those Penthouse Pet letters—causing them to envision women they are attracted to as doing naughty things to coffee cups, with porno music playing in the background. One can only imagine what Lenny thinks of his friend, Jody (Kate Ashfield), who hangs with the boys in between her shifts as a computer programmer. Rounding out the group is Sean (Luke de Woolfson), a janitor at the hospital who hasn't seen his girlfriend in nearly three weeks because he's too afraid to take a night off of work and learn that she has left him.
The first third of the movie primarily takes place inside the café, but eventually the outside becomes a part of each character's world. Vincent, ever the ladies' man, goes home with the exotic Madeline (Heike Makatsch) while Sean succumbs to temptation and has an affair with Susie (Sienna Guillory), a young girl who visits the hospital. After his infidelity, Sean desperately needs to reconcile with his estranged girlfriend, but when he gets home she has indeed left for good. It turns out that Sean's girlfriend is Madeline, the very same girl Vincent had a fling with. After Sean attacks Vincent for his betrayal the foursome grows apart, but eventually Sean decides to chase after Madeline and, with the help of his friends, tracks her down to a remote town.
The first hour of the movie is extremely good, with sharp, intelligent dialogue being delivered with excellent comedic precision. James Lance's performance as Vincent is a delicate balance between scoundrel and genuine friend, which makes the conflict between him and Sean an especially interesting dynamic in the movie. The real highlight, however, is Kate Ashfield. Her wardrobe and makeup accentuate a spunk within the character of Jody, which is fully realized by Ashfield's wonderful delivery of observations about her male cohorts. Also providing a good amount of laughs is Enzo Cilenti, who somehow makes Lenny not only a total loser, but also a lovable dope. The weakest of the cast is Luke de Woolfson, who has the unpleasant duty of playing the straight man. He does well, but it is tough to believe Sean's transformation from inactive boyfriend to confident man-on-the-march.
Frankly, the last half hour feels entirely wrong for this movie. Late Night Shopping is at home in the city's nightlife, not in the bright daylight of a remote Scottish town. Despite the presence of quick-witted dialogue, particularly between Sean and Vincent when they make amends, the final act of the script doesn't fit with the rest of the movie. Writer Jack Lothian must have felt the need to open up his script so the characters could get some fresh air, but neither he nor the director, Saul Metzstein, appear to be comfortable in this setting. The pacing becomes clumsy and the use of music, which in the early scenes contributes significantly to atmosphere, is annoying.
Another downfall of the movie is its use of too many conventional independent film devices. For example, Sean and Vincent's affairs are told in flashback, which causes the flow of the narrative to be disrupted. There also are a few too many overtly symbolic shots, especially of the traffic tunnel during the film's closing moments, that may induce eye rolling by some audience members. But the script, performances, and cinematography make up for these flaws, creating a likable, funny 90-minute shopping spree.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: The original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is preserved in this release with an anamorphic transfer. Skintones and colors, especially greens, come across quite well. Contrast looks nice, but detail is not particularly strong. At times the depth is pretty weak, also, making the visuals look rather dull. Overall, however, this is an adequate and pleasing transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Presented in Dolby Stereo, the front soundstage feature some nice sound separation (especially with scenes featuring moving vehicles) and a soothing presentation of the music. Dialogue comes across well and is always easy to understand, making this a pleasant listen.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jack Lothian, Saul Metzstein
Following that is a behind-the-scenes featurette (05m:41s) with interviews with Metzstein and the cast. It is shown in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen and features both clips from the movie and location footage. However, it amounts to nothing more than a promotional piece for the film and fails to give any valuable information as a result. Next are some additional clips, starting with a deleted scene (:48s), which is shown in widescreen with raw audio. There's nothing memorable about the scene, so it probably was a wise decision to remove it from the movie. Following that is a clip of James Lance explaining the cigarette trick Vincent does in the movie (:59s), as well as Enzo Cilenti's explanation of Lenny's coin trick (01m:10s). Both tricks, once explain, seem so simple, but after trying a few times they turn out to be harder than one might think. The final additional clip is a shot of Saul Metzstein lying on the ground after trying to beat up actor Luke de Woolfson (:33s).
The film's original theatrical trailer (01m:53s) is included, which is decidedly more adult than American trailers—what with it containing multiple instances of strong language. The final extra for this release is an insert with an essay by British film critic Jason Solomons. His essay explains the importance of the movie to British youth, with him claiming that the movie was the first to introduce the concept of slackers in a Scottish setting.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsLate Night Shopping is a clever, enjoyable, and flawed movie. The image and sound transfers for this DVD release make it an pleasant viewing experience, though not a standout one. The supplemental material included in this release is nothing extraordinary, but worth taking a look at.
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