BWW Reviews: ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME
While you watch Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, you'll hear the legendary lady described in a variety of ways. She can at turns be feisty, ferocious, headstrong, independent, tough as nails, one of kind, and any other adjective you can think. And she can also be vulnerable. Actress and icon Elaine Stritch has already left a legacy of work on Broadway, film and television for generations to continue to discover, but she's a restless spirit, determined to soldier on and keep the entertainment cooking. Retirement seems a dim possibility.
What this film captures is not only a look back over the course of her storied career, but a look too at the present circumstance Ms. Stritch finds herself in. Stritch deals with diabetes, and as she turns 87 during the course of the filming, we're reminded not only of her desire to keep performing, but also the toll that the disease is taking on her life. At one point, she's even hospitalized. But just when you think she's down, she comes back seemingly stronger than ever.
Director Chiemi Karasawa keeps the film rolling throughout, sometimes even taken stern criticism along the way. But that's the way Stritch rolls-she doesn't hold back, and she expects you to follow suit. It's a theme that comes up time and time again when stars like, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Cherry Jones, (the late) James Gandolfini, and others, are asked their opinion about Stritch.
Her longtime musical director Rob Bowman is there to offer his praise as well, but he's also there, steadying and comforting her while they wait for the doctor to arrive during a particularly upsetting diabetic crash. He's her anchor as she continues to work and tour, giving us glimpses of her Sondheim shows in rehearsal, and on stage at the Cafe Carlyle in New York.
This is a fascinating, hilarious, and often poignant look at the life of Elaine Stritch. The movie, a Sundance Select film, opens today (March 14, 2014) at the Plaza Frontenac.