A shot in the dark

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

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

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