Shoplifters Of The World Review: A Love Letter To The Smiths’ Music Is Hollow

Shoplifters Of The World Review: A Love Letter To The Smiths' Music Is Hollow

Written and directed by Stephen Kijak, with a story by Lorianne Hall, Shoplifters of the World follows a group of American teens who are devastated after The Smiths, a British band, break up. Aesthetic and The Smiths’ music are at the core of the film’s story, with Kijak setting up a classic coming-of-age story for its central characters, who are lost and struggling with their place in the world. The Smiths’ music helps them along, but the film relies too heavily on the band’s repertoire without doing much else. Overly long, superficially sentimental, and dull, Shoplifters of the World disregards its characters, lacks depth, and remains stagnant throughout.

It’s 1987 and The Smiths have recently broken up. The band has played a major role in the lives of Cleo (Helena Howard), Sheila (Elena Kampouris), and their friends — so much so that they dedicate the rest of the night to pay tribute to them. A big part of their tribute comes into play when Dean (Ellar Coltrane), who works at the local record store, heads to the town’s radio station, holding a gun to DJ Full Metal Mickey (an out of place Joe Manganiello) in a bid to force him to play The Smiths’ music to the masses. Dean and Cleo are especially put off that no one is really mourning the loss of the band, whose influence, Dean tells Mickey, can’t be overstated. What results is a night that none of the characters expected as they prepare to fully acknowledge the end of an era.

Shoplifters Of The World Review: A Love Letter To The Smiths' Music Is Hollow

Shoplifters Of The World Review: A Love Letter To The Smiths' Music Is Hollow

Shoplifters Of The World Review: A Love Letter To The Smiths' Music Is Hollow

The film has touches of a proper coming-of-age story, but the characters are barely developed enough to muster any care or investment in them or their lives. What do they strive for? What are their individual ambitions? What are their personalities outside of loving The Smiths? The film doesn’t have any answers to any of these questions and even their love of the band’s music comes off as superficial when there is barely any time spent establishing or exploring their characters. The subplot of Dean holding Mickey at gunpoint if he doesn’t play the Smiths is terribly put together as well. The two wind up bonding, but it’s forced and poorly handled. The audience is meant to feel sympathetic towards Dean, who is desperate to impress Cleo, but it’s rather frustrating to watch play out, especially considering how melodramatic the situation becomes. 

The end of the film is meant to inspire, but it feels empty and emotionless. Kijak attempts to infuse the screenplay with meaning and heart, but there is no effort made to actually create situations and moments where they’re effective. There is no proper worldbuilding or organic conflicts that justify much of anything really. By the time the film reaches the end, nothing has been accomplished. The lack of a strong narrative and characters, paired with pacing issues, turn the film from an intriguing premise to a boring, hollow, and overall tedious watch. 

Shoplifters of the World is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from RLJE Films. The film is 90 minutes long and is not rated. 

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments!

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5 (Poor, A Few Good Parts)

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