Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is a compelling, blunt new documentary by Chiemi Karasawa. It’s a very straight forward picture; we follow a small amount of time in the life of Broadway/film/tv legend Elaine Stritch, she of the big voice and bold tongue.
Karasawa’s movie presents Stritch initially as she is perceived by the general public. Stritch shows up to work on “30 Rock” for one of her frequent cameos and the cast views her as a deity. Sure, Stritch isn’t the best at remembering all of her lines, but she hits the punchlines with precision and is sharper with her wit than people decades younger whose job it is to be the sharpest around. Stritch then reminisces with her family about the old days; her deceased husband, would-be-romances, fights with directors. She seems as fun as her the typically perceived.
Then Karasawa opens things up. He shows Stritch’s brash nature occasionally requires a drink. She continually declares her sobriety and how long she’s gone without a drink. Well, a regular drink. Well, a lot of regular drinks, for one alcoholic beverage a day isn’t anything to make a fuss about. Piece by piece, Karasawa details Stritch’s nature and how prone she is to excuses.
The old term “warts and all” certainly fits. One is able to be wowed by the shear talent Stritch has, while still finding her nature difficult. It’s an honest portrayal of humanity. Those closest to Stritch are shown to love her deeply. There’s something kind of beautiful about it, even as troubling as it can often be. We all, if we are lucky enough, have those who will be there for us, for better or worse. What Shoot Me presents is that kind of companionship isn’t easy. A poignant doc that reveals a unique woman who is just like the rest of us.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me opens in limited release tomorrow.