Late Night Shopping (15)

Film image
Saul Metzstein

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner28/06/2001

Four stars out of five
Running time: 91 mins

Impressive low-budget British comedy with a sharp script and an excellent ensemble cast – well worth seeking out.

The combined horrors of recent British films such as Brothers, Final Cut or Love, Honour and Obey have done little to inspire confidence in the words "low budget British film", let alone the word "comedy". You could be forgiven, then, for taking a glance at the plot summary for Late Night Shopping and thinking "Naaah…." However, contrary to such understandably low expectations, Late Night Shopping is worth the effort, as it’s a sharply-written, well-acted little film that deserves to find an audience.

The plot, such as it is, is pretty simple. Supermarket shelf-stacker Vince (James Lance), hospital porter Sean (Luke de Woolfson), directory enquiries operator Lenny (Enzo Cilenti) and factory worker Jody (Kate Ashfield) are all twenty-something slackers with night-shift jobs that are going nowhere. Every night, after work, they all meet in a late-night diner to drink coffee, smoke, and discuss life, relationships and so on into the early hours.

Their problems are a mixture of the comic, the tragic and the vaguely existential variety – for example, Lenny is shy around women because he has "porno reactions", owing to a previous job as a letter-writer for a porn mag; Vince is a serial womaniser, seemingly unable to care about anyone but himself; and Sean agonises over whether his live-in girlfriend has left him or not, since their incompatible working hours mean that they’re never at home at the same time.

In fact, it’s Sean’s problem that’s the most important of the three, since it’s his ultimate decision to try and win back his girlfriend that finally spurs the group into action.

The film’s main strength is its superb cast, and it benefits from having a collection of relative unknowns – in fact, all of them are familiar from adverts and TV (you have to get past a certain amount of ‘Isn’t that the bloke from the One-2-One ad’-type thinking at the beginning), but none of them are ‘names’, though with luck, this film should change that.

It’s true that the film is very ‘talky’ and with a less appealing cast, this could have it – however, these are people you find yourself wanting to spend time with, even Vince, who initially seems to be both arrogant and obnoxious, but gradually reveals a deeper side.

The film also looks excellent, courtesy of cinematographer Brian Tufano, who creates the convincing night-time world the characters exist in. In fact, Tufano and director Metzstein met on the set of Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, when Metzstein was a mere production runner, who obviously picked up more than a few story-telling tips from Boyle and co.

In short, then, Late Night Shopping is a well-made, smartly-written and superbly acted little film that’s well worth seeking out. As an added bonus, it even features the acting debut of Nigel Buckland – the psychotic film-reviewing Welshman from TV’s Vids. Recommended.

Be the first to review Late Night Shopping...
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 19/07/2018 03:03

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films