“Shoot to Marry” is a documentary style romantic comedy from filmmaker Steve Markle (“Camp Hollywood”) and winner of the 2020 Audience Award from the Slamdance Film Festival. The film follows Steve, who plays himself, on a journey to attain his heart’s true desire, a wife. After lamenting over a failed proposal to his girlfriend,
Steve adopts a new lease on life and decides not to give up on love, but rather search for it in an unconventional way by creating a documentary about women; but, there’s a catch! It’s not actually a documentary about women. In reality, Steve just ends up using the guise of documentarian to try and find a new way to meet single women, and, hopefully, a wife.
I appreciate the ambition from the filmmaker. It was a refreshing and somewhat odd choice to see a single man in his mid-40’s create a film, released in 2020, where his burning desire in life was to one day be a good husband. The want for marriage seems increasingly rare in cinema today when so many films portray, and in many ways normalize singleness, dating multiple people, endless swiping on apps, and divorce. That being said, the issue I hold with this is that I didn’t really like how Steve went about finding his perfect mate.
In the film he approaches different women he finds interesting for one reason or another, tells them he’s making a documentary about interesting women, then, after meeting them, tries to pull a bait and switch and see if they want to date him. That made me uncomfortable. Using a documentary as an excuse to meet women who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have agreed to meet him seemed deceptive. I know and understand that modern dating is hard, and it’s hard to even find a decent match on a dating app, but this to me really was not the way to go.
Though I guess it did work out for Steve in that he, without ruining any major plot points, got to take his journey of finding true love on camera, and make what ended up being an award winning documentary so I have to give him credit where credit is due; killing two birds with one stone I suppose. I did enjoy getting to meet the women Steve encountered in the film; a hat maker named Heidi Lee, and an artist named Kate Kelton were particularly interesting to me. I enjoyed their works of art and would like to know where I can purchase one of Heidi’s hats. I also adored Steve’s parents, they seemed like great people, a wonderful couple and a shining example of a rare and happy marriage, meeting them was very sweet.
Although the random visit Steve took to a sex club where he witnessed an orgy seemed grossly out of place and out of character for a man who desired marriage, but my guess is he wanted to give the audience a good jolt and to break up the monotony of the film.
I’m not really sure where this piece could find a place with a broader audience, I would venture to guess it would turn off feminists, and I’m not too sure how many people who are into romantic comedies would be into the whole trick date plot line, if it had have been executed in a more pure way it could have potentially resonated with them.
I get that Markle was trying to add the whole comedy element, but pseudo dating women who had no idea he was trying to actually date them really didn’t come across all that funny to me, more than anything it felt like the comedy sort of got lost in a sea of cringe.
All negatives aside, Markle is clearly talented, and this was a labor of love as it was apparent it was filmed over multiple years. I hope to see more of him in the future, and could totally see him with a mockumentary-style self-deprecating show like “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I also thoroughly enjoyed the different city settings, Manhattan in particular was very fitting. Isn’t every good romantic comedy synonymous with Manhattan?
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