Fall Festival Review: Shithouse

28 Sep

Certainly did not expect to be giving a film named “Shithouse” a high score, but here we are (and let’s be honest, the title is unnecessary). With all due respect, everything about Cooper Raiff and the story behind the film seemed obnoxious on the surface, but color me surprised to realize that this is actually a warm, endearing love story with genuine heart and humor. It’s certainly not everyone’s college experience, and very much not mine, but it’s successful at capturing a very particular sense of longing and uncertainty – one that conjures up nostalgia for an experience that you maybe never even had.

I’m also grateful to this film for giving a platform to stuffed animals, and more thematically to the idea that one’s childhood, family, and emotions are essential and valuable for young men in college. That’s not to say that any of that will prevent men from still being raging assholes, but the more we normalize these things in media the better. And I would be remiss not to mention the always fabulous Dylan Gelula, whose performance here is the crown jewel of the film – even when she’s self sabotaging and lashing out, there is never a moment where you don’t root for her and understand her on some level. I’m not sure the ending is entirely earned, and Alex’s (Raiff) family dynamic by nature isn’t wholly fleshed out, but the journey itself is engaging and poignant. I can see why this won SXSW.

GRADE: B+

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