Review by Camden Ferrell
Shoot To Marry is the first documentary in over 15 years from Canadian filmmaker Steve Markle (Camp Hollywood). His newest film is a unique documentary that may have some questionable execution but ultimately proves to be a sweet and heartwarming journey.
This movie follows the director, Steve, as he deals with fallout of a nasty breakup. He decides to use his camera and abilities as a filmmaker to interview a number of unique women with the hopes of finding one he can really connect with. It’s an interesting concept, and it feels like the cinematic equivalent of online dating.
Unfortunately, despite its unique and engaging premise, the execution is mostly questionable. The film is described as a real-life romantic comedy. However, the documentary really tries to force the rom-com aspects of the film, and it doesn’t translate particularly well. While his self-deprecation is actually quite funny at times, his stream of consciousness as he narrates can be a bit uncomfortable. It’s genuine, but it just feels bizarre and mildly demeaning in context of the film.
The film also handles its female interviewees in a less than desirable way. At first, the women are mostly ignored in their interviews, and what they have to say is often overshadowed by the subject’s eagerness to find a romantic connection. It feels like its exploiting the women in a way that could be uncomfortable at times. While this can make sense in context of the subject’s development and arc, it still seems like it’s in poor taste.
The women he interviews are genuinely interesting. It’s great how he was able to interview such a wide variety of women from a firefighter to a dominatrix. He will occasionally showcase the talents and hobbies of the women, and this is where the film excels in being a cute story of a man trying to find love. One of the more interesting sections of the movie comes from a hat maker he meets and the fun they have.
The movie also enters into some really bizarre territory. He expands his boundaries as a person, and this leads him to try different things. He goes to a sex club, hires a professional cuddler, and he goes to a workshop on the art of receiving. I admire his willingness to challenge himself as a person, but there are times where his narration and thoughts about these activities (mostly the sex club) can come off as mildly creepy and off-putting. Regardless, it’s these strange moments that give the film a unique voice.
Despite its many flaws with its execution, it makes up for a lot of it in its final act. It’s heartwarming and satisfying to see him grow in more ways than one, and it can actually be quite resonant. It’s undeniably sweet, and it is the kind of sweetness that is absent from the first part of the film. He mostly redeems the film’s shortcomings in the way he constructs his emotional and heartwarming journey.
Shoot To Marry may sometimes be in poor taste, but it has enough humor and charm to remain engaging. It’s an interesting look into the world of love and dating from a man who is so charmingly awkward at times. While it’s not without flaws, it’ll be interesting to see where Markle goes from here.
Shoot To Marry debuted at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival which runs January 24-30 in Park City, UT.