MIFF 2017 review SHUT UP ANTHONY


2017
Directed By: Kyle Eaton
Starring: Robert A. D'Esposito, Katie Michels, Jon Titterington

We've all had a moment where we just didn't know when to stop. When we've said too much, not taken the time to read the people we are interacting with, and just refused to get out of our own way. Anthony perpetually lives in that moment. His anxiety causes him to spew information all over the people he crosses paths with and letting words out seems to be something of a pressure relief. The only problem is the tool he uses to avoid anxiety creates situations that are highly uncomfortable and induce more anxiety.

After being fired and dumped in quick succession Anthony heads to his family's remote timeshare to get some time alone. Much to his surprise he finds an old family friend Tim, a college professor who has a predilection for straight vodka at 2 in the afternoon, in the house. The two men are clearly using their families secluded co-op to avoid their current situations.

Robert A. D'Esposito injects his portrayal of Anthony with enough humor and humanity to make what could be an incredibly jarring character compelling. Its that performance that enables us to pull for Anthony. We want to see him succeed in the long run, but in the immediate future we would really appreciate it if he would just learn to keep quiet.

I've seen comparisons to CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM when reading up on SHUT UP ANTHONY. And while I understand how some people could see Anthony as a more grounded version of Larry David, I think the comparison is a bit misleading. SHUT UP ANTHONY is something closer to REAL LIFE or MODERN ROMANCE, both Albert Brooks films that walk the line between comedy and drama. Kyle Eaton allows the characters in his film to have poor judgement, self destructive tendencies, and to be motivated by insecurity and necrosis. Its the flaws in Eaton's characters that elevate his material to something truly special. And in turn Eaton has made a deeply effective comedy/drama that never sacrifices one for the other.

Early in the film we see an argument between Anthony and his girlfriend that could have been easily avoided. She simply wants him to travel, take a trip, spend time with him, and he won't listen. He makes excuses and talks his way out of a relationship. Its a frustratingly honest scene that feels far too real not to be based on some truth. Starting this film with this scene is a perfect litmus test. It lets you know pretty quickly if this is a film that will work for you. If you enjoy more rooted and adult oriented comedies that are more concerned with character than cheap gags, I'd highly recommend checking this one out.


SHUT UP ANTHONY will be screening at:

Massachusetts Independent Film Festival - Friday, August 25 @ 6:15pm