There's a germ of a compelling film lurking somewhere within Klepto, but the finished product doesn't reveal this willingly – you have to wade through a seemingly interminable set-up before the story kicks into gear and becomes an intriguing hybrid of doomed romance and crime thriller. The dialogue occasionally tends toward stilted, but the two leads – Meredith Bishop and Jsu Garcia – boast a palpable chemistry, which helps elevate Ethan Gross and Thomas Trail's (who also directs) slightly thin screenplay.
Emily Brown (Bishop) steals things – ballpoint pens, candy, watches, hose – what she thieves doesn't matter so much as the rush she gets from shoplifting; despite talking regularly with a therapist, Emily lays off her addiction on obsessive compulsive disorder, strangely untreated despite a medicine cabinet overflowing with prescription medication. Nick Ruiz (Garcia) is an ex-con whose checkered past is making it difficult to achieve much of a future; his job as a self-described "rent-a-cop" at a major department store offers a few temptations and Nick can't help himself when a big drug deal falls in his lap, despite crossing paths with the mysterious gangster Ivan (Henry Czerny). Emily and Nick's paths cross unexpectedly, forcing both to rely upon each other in order to survive.
Klepto is certainly interesting, but not until nearly 40 minutes in – so much time is spent by Trail setting up these characters, which is mostly unnecessary as the actors do a superb job of telling the audience all they need to know inside of five minutes. While Gross and Trail's screenplay does build to a neat conclusion that feels a little too pat, there are a few surprises tossed in along the way to keep the plot from getting completely stale. Bishop, Garcia and Czerny are all terrific, with Bishop in particular standing out. Klepto won't blow you away, but rather draws you in close for a subtly surprising finale.
Klepto arrives on DVD boasting a sterling 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that boasts neither a speck of dirt or hint of edge enhancement; this is one sharp image. Shot on digital video, there's no noise or other visual defect. A smooth, clean looking effort.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track here is relegated mostly to dialogue, with little surround activity and the occasional score bleeding in – the characters are heard clearly with no distortion and the sound mix, when it does expand to all channels, is nicely done and mostly immersive.
There's not much meat here: a three-minute, 33 second behind-the-scenes featurette is on board along with trailers for Bubble, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Klepto, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Pulse, The Seat Filler and The War Within.
Klepto is a twisty fusion of crime thriller and character study – powered by a pair of winning performances from Meredith Bishop and Jsu Garcia, director/co-writer Thomas Trail's debut builds to a satisfying conclusion, despite the early slow going. Rent it.