Demme's subject is not the master of suspense, but lesser known Brit Robyn, the offbeat singer-songwriter who fronted the 70s combo, The Soft Boys back in the days when hair was longer, shirts were louder and navel gazing was mandatory. The storefront of the title is a vacant shop space where, over the course of two days, Hitchcock plays 15 songs and performs a freewheeling selection of looping (and loopy) monologues to a live audience. Outside a heterogeneous stream of rubbernecking New Yorkers pass the window with varying degrees of curiosity, disbelief and interest. That's pretty much it: no trashed hotel rooms, no drug-mashed confessionals; no backstage tantrums. Indeed, apart from a hippie chick with a violin and a floppy fringed guitarist, the entire visual style consists of two candles, a mirror ball, and a pair of road cones.
This is rock'n'roll gone completely Dada. The props, however, reveal much after about the artist's absurdist sense of humour which is pitched somewhere between Python and Peter Cook, the latter of whom Hitchcock bears an uncanny physical resemblance to. The same self-conscious wit that often makes his rambling verbals seem postured and platitudinous is far more forgiveable and much better served in his bittersweet melodies. Fusions of rock, folk and pop they are, by turns, ironic, caustic and melancholic and underscore Hitchcock's skewed genius.
Demme, for his part, is modestly self-effacing and his laissez faire directorial style provides a pleasingly raw result. But would it be facetious to suggest that a movie that loses little from having one's eyes closed, is by any other name, a soundtrack? Only fans need apply.