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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shut Up and Shoot Me (2005)

Shut Up and Shoot Me is an affable black comedy from Czech writer-director Steen Agro. It begins when Colin (Andy Nyman) is on holiday in Prague with his wife, when she is unexpectedly crushed by a statue. Which in turn crushes Colin. Unable to handle life without her, he tries to kill himself, but finds that it is harder than he thought, and he can’t go through with it. Instead, he hires Pavel Zeman (Karel Roden), a local man who’s already working at several jobs in order to keep his wife in cosmetic luxury, to do the job for him. Pavel at first tries to fob him off, but the lure of money is too strong, and soon things get complicated, with all the wrong people dying and the two unwilling partners attracting the attention of a local gangster known as the Butcher of Prague.
This isn’t the world’s first suicide-related comedy, and it probably won’t be the last, but it’s quite clever in its little twists and turns. Colin is a fairly standard anxious type, while Pavel is more down to earth and practical type, at first just trying to avoid having to deal with the Englishman or his situation. Actually, Pavel seems a bit heartless early on, and he also doesn’t seem to care when his wife has blown all of Colin’s money and he still hasn’t made good on their deal. He mostly just wants to be left alone, which is an understandable feeling, and it wouldn’t be a problem if Colin just seemed like a crank, but we’ve been with him from the beginning, and seen his wife die. However, as the pace picks up, this becomes less of an issue.
The film is nicely shot, with a contemporary soundtrack. It also displays a subtle suspicion of authority figures, as shown in an administrative screw-up with the wife’s remains and the fact that they never consider going to the police, which leads to a nicely subversive ending. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it is well-made, well-written, and very entertaining.

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