Steve (Samuel O’Donnell) isn’t the most socially gifted human on the planet, and as the film opens, he’s in the process of proclaiming his love the non-reciprocating Lisa. As she lets him down with all the gentle touch of a gunshot to the chest (wonderfully portrayed as such on screen), Steve finds himself lost and lonely.
Shortly thereafter, Steve’s best friends, Grace (Emma Hughes) and Albert (Courtney Taylor), want to help him get back out in the social scene. Steve proves particularly unimpressive in his numerous attempts before connecting with Kelly (Renee Hodson), an indie music snob who he’s had a crush on. As Steve and Kelly’s friendship grows, mostly due to their affinity for playing pranks together, Steve begins to feel those familiar, potentially heartbreaking romantic feelings. Not wanting to lose Kelly, Steve accepts his role as friend, to the detriment of his own feelings of love.
As far as originality of narrative goes, there’s not much in Nick Khoo’s Shot Down that you probably haven’t seen addressed time and time again. The guy, or girl, unlucky in love who pines for their best friend, who is with another, has been around for quite some time. So, if you think you know where this one is going, based on narrative precedent, chances are you are correct.
That said, the familiarity of the tale isn’t a huge drawback if the film itself delivers in an entertaining enough fashion, and this one does. The film has a great energy about it, and the imagery is stylistically creative, playing with the edit and utilizing effects and animations to make something exceptional from the common. The performances in the film are strong too, with only a few moments that don’t ring all that convincing (which has more to do with the trappings of the narrative, and the need to fulfill the expected developments between characters).
Sometimes the cinematography suffers from soft focus, usually in camera moves or zooms where a deft follow-focus is required, but for the most part it’s not too distracting. Notable, but not the end of the world; the shallow depth of field sometimes works to accentuate the social haze that Steve seems to exist in, as in scenes where it appears around the edges of the frame as if the entire movie was made to blend in with an Instagram aesthetic.
Overall, while we may know where Shot Down is going, and maybe even how it will get there, the film is like cinematic comfort food. It’s a meal you’ve had many times before, but when it’s done well, it can still be appreciated. I don’t think Shot Down breaks any cinematic ground, maybe isn’t even all that memorable after the fact, but it’s certainly pleasant and entertaining during; that’s not always as easy to achieve as one would think, and thus deserves its proper due.
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