The Kleptomaniac is a really interesting film. It’s one of the first overt “problem” films. That is to say, it’s a film that highlights an injustice that is carried out daily in America, and attempts to shine a light in it through the medium of film. Think of this as an extended Crying Indian commercial.
It really stands out among this era, because it really packs quite a punch in its brief run time. Sure, it’s not the greatest film, staging-wise, and it’s nearly impossible to figure out what’s going on unless you’re really paying attention, but the end of the movie is really quite powerful, and it’s that final image that we’re left with that moves it ahead of the pack of anything else I could have chosen this year.
The film essentially highlights two women. The first is a rich woman, who goes out shopping. And while she is out shopping, she (because she is a kleptomaniac, apparently), can’t help but shoplift an expensive item from a store. This scene is done entirely in a single take, and I’m telling you, with so many people moving around the frame at once, it’s either completely stupid or completely brilliant staging. Because either it’s a slice of life, or this is them really not realizing we won’t be able to figure out who the woman we’re supposed to be watching is among the people in the frame. (more…)