A boutique owner’s crusade against shoplifters isolates her from friends and confines her to a virtual fortress shared with an obsessive admirer who secretly has been battering thieves caught on surveillance cameras.
Since lawyer Charles Hardy’s wife died, he has become super-protective of his 25-year-old daughter Brooke. He tried to coerce Brooke to study law, but she got a degree in business instead. Against all her father’s warnings about the risks of small business, Brooke starts a Boston boutique clothing store called Gürlz. She hires her best friend from college, Melanie Altraz, as her manager.
Moments before Brooke arrives with her father for the store grand opening, Brooke’s fiancé Donald Pryor and Melanie have a spontaneous sexual encounter in one of the store’s changing rooms. It’s not the first time. Brooke remains oblivious.
From its first week of opening, Gürlz is afflicted with shoplifters. Brooke is enraged by the injustice, and she has increasingly violent confrontations with several of the thieves without getting satisfaction. On the advice of Donald, Brooke installs security cameras. The installation is done by Jack Fortner (28), the owner of a small security firm. Jack, a former infantryman in Afghanistan, and Brooke hit it off. With the help of security cameras, Brooke catches a woman stealing scarves. The police don’t respond to Brooke’s call and Brooke and Melanie argue over what to do. The thief gets away.
Brooke’s father advises her to get out of the business before she gets slapped with a law suit. Still, Brooke insists that the business can thrive. Jack installs additional cameras in an unused elevator shaft in the middle of the store. Brooke withdraws from her friends and begins spending hours each day secretly watching the store from behind one-way mirrors in the unused elevator shaft.
Not only does Brooke catch shop lifters from her secret observation post, she observes employees stealing clothing, sees Melanie having sex with Donald, and sees one employee steal cash from the till. Brooke breaks up with Don, fires Melanie, and distances herself from friends. Brooke and Jack grow more intimate. Unknown to Brooke, Jack works late at night to clean up and restore the interior of the basement which is accessible only through a back hallway and is blocked by a heavy, bolted door. He even furnishes the basement with a bathroom and a king-sized bed.
Brooke discovers that women who have shoplifted from Gürlz have been savagely beaten by an unidentified black man. Police are investigating the beatings. Brooke hires a new manager named Mary (30), a competent, decisive woman who strongly agrees with Brooke’s position against shoplifting and who agrees that the cops are no help at all. The beatings continue and eventually result in the death of a shoplifter.
In anger and frustration, Brooke regularly takes refuge in the basement vault Jack has constructed. Brooke finally realizes that Jack is the vigilante who has exacted revenge as her proxy and he expects her to love him for all that he has done to protect her. Brooke resists his advances and unsuccessfully tries to get away. Brooke’s observation fortress has become her prison. Jack becomes enraged when Brooke turns down his offers of sex and he gags and ties her up. Brooke manages to break through the one-way glass of the elevator shaft and Mary, an undercover cop, arrests Jack.
Gürlz is closed and shuttered. Brooke has given up trying to fight shoplifting without help from the law. Across the lawn of a college campus, up the stairs of an old college building, through the doors of an ancient law library sits Brooke. She is surrounded by law books as she studies torts in her first year of law school.