Welcome to Rentertainment, one of the last remaining video stores on the Gold Coast, Australia. When the store gets held up yet again, the owner, Gary (Stuart Lumsden), decides enough is enough and installs hard-wired security cameras connected to a hard drive. Gary hopes they’ll be able to get proof of the various robbers and provide hard evidence to the Police. Gary is not only a lover of classic films; he’s also a passionate filmmaker. Working with Gary is a young man named Andrew (Jayden Latcham). Andrew typically handles all matters at the front counter, while Gary handles the main inventory in the back room and often meets with suppliers.
One day, while Andrew works an evening shift, he gets a visit from Stacy (Danni Clowes) and her harsh boyfriend, Damian (Jordan Abbey-Young). Andrew and Stacy share an instant connection and lock eyes. Stacy has an altercation with Damian, and the pair leave the store. When the store seeks a new employee to help Andrew work the front counter, Stacy returns with an application, seeking a job. Gary employs Stacy, and as Andrew and Stacy work together, romance begins to bud, all captured on the store’s security cameras. Soon, Gary gets the idea of capturing the ultimate love story between Andrew and Stacy with footage of the pair while they work together. Gary hopes to turn it into a feature hit, making cinematic history. However, unbeknownst to Andrew, Stacy holds a dark secret that soon causes trouble for the star-struck lovers. Can Andrew and Stacy discover themselves and find love?
The Last Video Store is a love letter in so many aspects. It’s a love letter for those who adored visiting video stores and for those who value all things relating to movies. For those who are unaware, my first job as a young teenager (and still my favourite) was working in a local video store. Naturally, I was excited to see a feature-length film set in this environment.
Putting my nostalgia and passion for video stores aside, there’s plenty of fun here. Firstly, the film’s location and concept are something new and fresh. Have you ever seen a romantic movie set in a video store before? The concept of finding love in the most unlikely of places and under the most unusual circumstances is lots of fun. We witness Andrew, who is quite shy and unsure of how to handle his emotions and feelings when it comes to love getting free advice from his boss, Gary, on how to take the next step. Meanwhile, Stacy is more outgoing and has a more prominent personality than Andrew.
The film also has plenty of random and wacky gags, such as the customers Andrew encounters, from Star Trek-obsessed fans to customers asking for inappropriate titles. Andrew’s days working in a video store are always filled with unexpected moments and strange events. Many film references and gags revolve around classic vs modern films, romantic tropes, and how the times have changed relating to the cinema. Another fun aspect played for laughs is how often the store gets held up and the disappointment that comes when the robbers find the till has barely any cash. This also reflects how video store sales and business were starting to decline.
The pacing here is excellent. I enjoyed seeing the successful introduction to the leading characters and the romance that slowly forms as the film progresses. The filming style also can’t be faulted. Shots inside the video store are well executed, and everything on-screen is straightforward and enjoyable. Performances from the leads are also lovely, particularly Stuart Lumsden as Gary. Stuart Lumsden injects energy into the film and provides the majority of laughs through his randomness and wild ideas about all things movies and romance. Whenever they share the screen, Jayden Latcham as Andrew and Danni Clowes as Stacy are believable, likable, and fun. Some actors who play random customers are a little over the top, and some gags sadly won’t always land a big laugh. Thankfully, this is only a minor concern as each customer is given a brief appearance in the style of cameos. Ultimately, based on everything on screen and factors like location and film budget, everything achieved here is truly unique, extraordinary, and memorable.
Overall, The Last Video Store delivers an experience that is different, fresh, fun, and unique. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a romance unfold within a video store, and it’s evident that the Director, Brian Vining, has a passion for all things relating to films. The results here are impressive based on the budget and location alone. It’s a fun film that left me smiling due to its touching romance and witty randomness throughout, mainly thanks to Stuart Lumsden, who injects energy whenever he appears on-screen. Ultimately, we need more films like this in Australia- highly different films with a big heart behind the camera. Director and writer Brian Vining has impressed me with this solid directorial debut.
The Last Video Store (2023) is Now Available on Digital.