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Shopping (1993, Sadie Frost, Jude Law)

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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.

production details
UK | 105 minutes | 1994

Writer and Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

cast
Eamonn Walker as Peters
Jude Law as Billy
Sean Pertwee as Tommy
Jason Isaacs as Market Trader
Ralph Ineson as Dix
Marianne Faithfull as Bev
Sadie Frost as Jo
Fraser James as Be Bop
Sean Bean as Venning
Jonathan Pryce as Conway
Lee Whitlock as Pony
Melanie Hill as Sarah
Tilly Vosburgh as Mrs Taylor
Brian Croucher as Billy’s Dad
Chris Constantinou as Yuppie
Clint Dyer as Car Thief
Simon Bateso as Tommy’s Gang #1
Polly Moore as Tommy’s Gang #2
Vinny Mann as Tommy’s Gang #3
Julian Sandell as Tommy’s Gang #4
Daniel Newman as Monkey