"Literally no band ever represented said tribalism so monumentally as did The Smiths. And amongst the time-transporting, archival black & white footage woven into the Shoplifters… narrative is a scene of a half-dozen or so young boys biking about, probably somewhere in Manchester (Salford?) around 1984, and all dressed identically in the unmistakable Morrissey regalia – right down to the pompadour and studious spectacles. Then flashbacks to vintage interviews with Marr (“We wanted to ditch everything that people superficially thought was rock & roll.”) and Morrissey (“Do you have any friends?” “No, I don’t” “So The Smiths are your only friends?” “As far as I can see, yeah.”) make for a spine-tingling reminder of what vividly and brilliantly self-drawn characters they were (especially the latter, obviously) – and serve to decisively explicate all the hysteria swirling around them, from the North of England all the way to the...
The film lacks for the empathy, curiosity, and sense of humor that are the defining characteristics of the Smiths’s music.
"In the absence of fully formed characters, the film leans more toward an idealized, nostalgic fantasy, and the cast does often succeed in injecting the story with a sense of life. Coltrane impressively tempers Dean’s sincerity with a smirking self-consciousness, while Howard has a spontaneous, infectious energy. At their best, these performances suggest the youthful charm of something like Dazed and Confused, though Shoplifters of the World is a bit too polished and lacking in period detail to achieve the effortless joy of Richard Linklater’s classic."
Myths are always far more interesting than the truths, especially rock and roll myths. Did Jim Morrison really drop trou in front of a rowdy Florida audience? Did Mama Cass actually choke to death on a ham sandwich? Did an overwrought Smiths fan hijack a radio station at gunpoint, forcing the DJ to play the band’s songs after finding out they had just split?