April 12th, 2017 - Review by Mark Schwab
You have to be careful as a writer/director when you decide to put an intentionally unlikable character as your main protagonist. Sometimes it pays off in movies like AS GOOD AS IT GETS and ELECTION where that annoying schlub ends up winning us over, mostly because they became huggable instead of hittable. I admire writer/director Kyle Eaton's attempt to roll the dice on Robert D'Esposito's titular character in SHUT UP ANTHONY and although it didn't totally win me over, there is some intriguing material here to think about.
The movie wastes no time in establishing Anthony as a man in free fall; his girlfriend is questioning their relationship, he's dismissed from his job in a truly undignified fashion and treating pretty much everyone around him as if they are plotting against him. Confused as to his next move, he decides to drive up to his parent's mountaintop time share to clear his head.
Unfortunately for Anthony there is another guest already there. His name is Tim (Jon Titterington) and his parents also rent the timeshare. Neither guy knew the other was going to be there and all sorts of awkwardness, character flaws and buried secrets begin to ooze out over a very uncomfortable few days and nights.
D'Esposito and Titterington both plant their characters in a big hornet's nest of almost constant passive-aggressiveness that is well-performed but wore me out a bit. Too many times in the film, a scene would present a simple situation with Anthony and another character then turn it into an over-the-top neurotic argument. Sometimes it worked effectively in creating some curious tension (there's a fine scene where they "blackmail" each other with incriminating cell phone pictures) but other times it elicited eye rolls when it comes off as contrived just to keep the movie going (like the scene in a local bar where Anthony and Tim confront a couple of louts that goes on way past the point of believability).
Now where SHUT UP ANTHONY ultimately ends up going is actually pretty interesting. When Anthony's actual backstory comes to the surface the seemingly simple set up starts to take on a different patina and it had my attention. But this is towards the end of the film and there wasn't enough time to explore it. In fact, thinking back on it, the film does build momentum as it goes and the last 25-30 minutes are quite good in how the emotional gunfire plays out.
Crisply filmed with a nice sound mix, SHUT UP ANTHONY features solid acting and, when all is said and done, an intriguing concept. Even though it's undercut by some over-baked neurotic set-ups for the first half, if you stick with it the stronger second half pulls it over the recommendation finish line.