A shot in the dark
SHUT UP AND SHOOT ME Directed by Steen Agro. Starring Karel Roden, Andy Nyman, Anna Geislerova, Karel Karlovic, Klara Low Club, IFI, Dublin, 90 min
FILM-makers have always enjoyed extracting comedy from the petty squabbling of silly men. Midnight Run, Pulp Fiction, I Went Down: all thrive on the particular ways overgrown boys find to annoy one another.
Shut Up and Shoot Me, a lively co-production from the UK and the Czech Republic, finds a new way of putting two such fools together and invents just enough amusing dialogue to fill its brief running time. The picture is never exactly hilarious, but it never drags either.
Steen Agro, the writer and director, deserves particular credit for daring to begin his debut feature with a scene straight out of a Road Runner cartoon. Maggie and Colin, an unexciting English couple, have travelled to Prague for a holiday. After observing one of that city’s many lovely views, the pair are strolling down the street when a statue lands on Maggie’s head and crushes her into dust.
Failing to get to grips with the five stages of grief, Colin approaches Pavel, the gruff man who drove him to the morgue, and asks the functionary to help him die. “But not writhing in agony,” Colin says, before pathetically proffering his credit card.
On their journey to an agreeably absurd denouement, they annoy Pavel’s materialistic wife and fall foul of a hoodlum named the Butcher. “Because he owns a butcher’s shop?” the Englishman says hopefully.
As with Midnight Run, the film features conflict between a hardened cynic and a whiny, faintly unmanly suburbanite. Andy Nyman (recently the best thing in Death at a Funeral) is very good as the nerd and Karel Roden, though limited to grimaces and bellows, makes something believable of the accidental hitman.
Featuring washed out photography and the occasional flashy process shot, Shut Up and Shoot Me will certainly not surprise anybody who has enjoyed Fargo or the early films of Guy Ritchie. But you could find worse ways of killing time during the New Year break.
Waiting for a Prague spring: Andy Nyman in Shut Up and Shoot Me