Paul Anderson’s debut, Shopping, is a very British film, centred on the theme that there is no society any more, only individuals. Set in a Britain of the near future, gangs of wild youths walk the streets of a nameless city, their numbers swelled by Billy (Jude Law) – recently freed from prison – and his friend Jo (Sadie Frost), who upgrade their stolen car and elude the police in a chase.
Reunited with Monkey (Danny Newman) and BeBop (Fraser James), the thieves rebuild an alliance. But Billy has made powerful enemies, including police chief Conway (Jonathan Pryce) and psychotic gangster Tommy (Sean Pertwee), who threatens to end his young rival’s career permanently. Angered, Billy responds by ram-raiding a shop Tommy had targeted and leading the police into an ambush. Tommy fights back, trashing Billy’s home and coaxing him into accepting a risky challenge: rob the supposedly impregnable Retail Land site and take the glory, or serve the time…
Anderson indulges in cinematic pilfering, borrowing from Blade Runner and Gotham City to build his vision of a country divided. While a lack of subtlety clouds his intentions, the director delivers a slick, diverting story that will probably be best remembered as Law’s first movie, released three years before he married Frost. Honing the glamour and presence that would define his career, the actor is the moral and visual centre of the film, compensating for the excesses of plot which the budget can never realise.
UK / 1993
Director and Writer: Paul Anderson
Cast: Sadie Frost, Jude Law, Sean Pertwee, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce