Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Christopher Nolan Says 'Interstellar' Is About "What It Means To Be A Dad”; Plus Check Out New Pics Christopher Nolan Says 'Interstellar' Is About "What It Means To Be A Dad”; Plus Check Out New Pics Paul Schrader, Nicolas Winding Refn & Nicolas Cage Campaign Against Their Film 'Dying Of The Light' Paul Schrader, Nicolas Winding Refn & Nicolas Cage Campaign Against Their Film 'Dying Of The Light' WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting Retrospective: The Films Of Paul Thomas Anderson Retrospective: The Films Of Paul Thomas Anderson WB Reveals Full DC Slate Through 2020, Including Two 'Justice League' Pics, 'Wonder Woman,' 'Green Lantern' & More WB Reveals Full DC Slate Through 2020, Including Two 'Justice League' Pics, 'Wonder Woman,' 'Green Lantern' & More Brad Bird Explains Why He Passed On Directing 'Star Wars: Episode 7' Brad Bird Explains Why He Passed On Directing 'Star Wars: Episode 7' Shia LaBeouf Cut His Own Face, Fought The Cast & Got A Tooth Pulled Making 'Fury' Shia LaBeouf Cut His Own Face, Fought The Cast & Got A Tooth Pulled Making 'Fury' Robert Downey Jr. To Join Chris Evans In ‘Captain America 3’ Which Will Help Launch A New Phase Of Marvel Robert Downey Jr. To Join Chris Evans In ‘Captain America 3’ Which Will Help Launch A New Phase Of Marvel BFI London Film Festival Review: Susanne Bier's Long-Delayed 'Serena' Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper BFI London Film Festival Review: Susanne Bier's Long-Delayed 'Serena' Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Oscar Buzz: Who's Going To Challenge For Best Actress This Year? Oscar Buzz: Who's Going To Challenge For Best Actress This Year? Robert Downey Jr. Says Superhero Films Are Becoming “Old" And Showing "Signs Of Fraying Around The Edges” Robert Downey Jr. Says Superhero Films Are Becoming “Old" And Showing "Signs Of Fraying Around The Edges” Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 6 ‘Devil You Know’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 6 ‘Devil You Know’ Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me' A Hilarious And Touching Portrait Of A Broadway Legend

Photo of Katie Walsh By Katie Walsh | The Playlist February 21, 2014 at 12:07PM

Somehow, some way, a documentary about an aging actress/comedienne dealing with fear and mortality just might be the most life-affirming film that’s come around in a long time. “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” follows the inimitable force of nature that is Broadway veteran Elaine Stritch, and is a shot in the arm of humor, heart and humanity (with a jolt of adrenaline just for kicks). Director Chiemi Karasawa has a light touch that showcases Elaine in all of her eccentric charm and truly captures her irascible spirit. Hilarious and touching, “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” is one of the most entertaining and moving documentaries of 2014, and it’s only February!
0
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

Somehow, some way, a documentary about an aging actress/comedienne dealing with fear and mortality just might be the most life-affirming film that’s come around in a long time. “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” follows the inimitable force of nature that is Broadway veteran Elaine Stritch, and is a shot in the arm of humor, heart and humanity (with a jolt of adrenaline just for kicks). Director Chiemi Karasawa has a light touch that showcases Elaine in all of her eccentric charm and truly captures her irascible spirit. Hilarious and touching, “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” is one of the most entertaining and moving documentaries of 2014, and it’s only February!

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

For those who don’t know, Elaine Stritch is the 89-year-old Broadway vet who has been treading the boards since the 1940s, and more recently, as Jack Donaghy’s mother in “30 Rock,” in a role that’s sort of facsimile of her own persona. At the age of 87 (when this was filmed), she shows minimal signs of stopping, fully embodying the performer’s maxim, “the show must go on.” And go on it does. She’s such a fully realized outsize persona, that her distinctive rasp, potty mouth and unique sense of fashion precedes her wherever she goes. Elaine puts on the Elaine show, but she’s fully aware of it, and she absolutely, refreshingly does not give a fuck (she’d probably put it that way herself). But she’s also devastatingly open and honest, completely giving of her spirit, her vulnerability and her fears and her victories.

The film is loosely structured around a series of Sondheim club shows Elaine is putting on in New York and her hometown of Detroit, and the framing device of choosing photos for a Stella Adler retrospective offers some context for her long and storied career and adventures on the Great White Way. But the film remains largely in the present, never really delving too far into the past to dwell on past successes. That must be due to the fact that Elaine is just so damn magnetic in her present incarnation. She’s constantly barking one-liners, insults, advice, tales about the famous men she dated, or breaking out into song or dance (she also tries to direct the film herself at times, ordering the cameraman around in what could contend to be one of the funniest nonfiction moments onscreen this year... or ever).

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

She’s just as quick to admit when she’s scared, sad, nervous or to discuss her own flaws and struggles in life. “Everyone’s got a sack of rocks,” she declares, and her willingness to acknowledge her own is inspiring. She embraces fear, and faces it head on, steeling her posture, and stomping out on stage in her signature uniform of crisp white shirt and black stockings. In a particularly raw moment, she talks about death from a hospital bed, and her acceptance of the inevitable—her age, her own mortality—is comforting in a way. Elaine’s embrace of fear makes it seem not as scary.

Just as she’s a little old lady with a big voice, she’s also still a young and innocent Catholic girl, and still a stage siren, bewitching men from Kirk Douglas to James Gandolfini. She’s a legend who remains somewhat under-the-radar, and a true exemplar of “showbiz” of another time. Inspirational, entertaining, and absolutely awards-caliber (from first-time director Karasawa), “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” offers up an indelible and rare experience in cinematic form—it’s simply an absolute treat to be able to spend this much intimate time with such a legendary lady. [A]


This article is related to: Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates