Shit Year

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Reviews Counted: 8

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User Ratings: 95


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Average Rating: 3.3/5

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Movie Info

Renowned actress Colleen West (Ellen Barkin) abandons her successful career for a secluded life in the hills. But the quiet and peace of mind she longed for is disrupted by the noisy construction of neighboring housing developments. Before long, Colleen discovers that she really can't stand herself now that she has given up the only thing that she has ever truly been passionate about. Haunted by loneliness and past desires, Colleen begins to feel as if she has lived her life through the characters she has played on stage and screen. Reality becomes inseparable from Colleen's unhinged obsessions in a hallucinatory struggle to accept her own vulnerability and reclaim herself. -- (C) Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Shit Year

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (7)

  • While I admire Archer's attempt to tackle the well-worn path of the fading superstar narrative with ingenuity, his high-minded conceits muddy the vitality of Barkin's performance.

    Sep 12, 2012 | Full Review…

    Eric Kohn

    Top Critic
  • Archer's given a gift to Barkin fans, offering the actress a fully-developed central role that takes advantage of her reflexive ability to shape her character's deep insecurities with an overlay of lived-in confidence and power.

    Feb 23, 2012 | Full Review…

    Jay Weissberg

    Top Critic
  • Barkin is nobly committed to the film's dreamlike reality. But neither the script nor the self-conscious camerawork gives her story any depth.

    Sep 23, 2011 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • A teeth-gnashing example of film-school pretentiousness...

    Sep 21, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    David Fear

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • These poses and pretty rooms may accurately reflect Colleen's visual aesthetic, the world she inhabits or wants to, but whether hers or Mr. Archer's, it's not compelling.

    Sep 21, 2011 | Rating: 2/5
  • A protegé of Gus Van Sant, Archer -- who also makes short films and music videos -- has a wild imagination he has trouble harnessing. He doesn't know the meaning of "too much."

    Sep 21, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Shit Year

"Shit Year" wins the award for best movie title of the year but definitely not best movie of the year. It is a highly avant-garde hand-made film shot on black-and-white video. Ellen Barkin plays a famous screen actress around age 60 just realizing how alone she is. She has just had a brief affair with a 22-year-old actor who had co-starred with her in a play, and the affair has left her in a funk. It's not clear whether she has fallen in love with him or just cannot stomach being single anymore. Writer/director Cam Archer, who is not particularly deep, seems to have written the 22-year-old into the script just so he could film a nearly naked 22-year-old boy. And he does so with all the depth of a Calvin Klein ad. The attention to the main character is fairly deep, but not enough to trigger much caring on the part of the audience. I was mostly bored while watching "Shit Year." The avant-garde techniques weren't that interesting either. The film is more like theater than cinema. The actors step in front of the camera the way an actor would step onto a bare stage to do a scene. They perform what are basically monologues to give you a sense of what the character might be going through. Nothing is meant to be realistic -- more like re-enactment of pivotal moments in someone's life, where the audience understands that it is seeing highly stylized, fragmentary re-enactments, not the actual occurrences. This distancing effect and the general use of techniques from stage drama and art video I found moderately interesting. But for this kind of thing to work in cinema, it has to take one's breath away. The audience also has to care deeply about something. None of this happened in "Shit Year." Barkin gives a good performance. (When is Barkin not fabulous?) But unfortunately she's lost in a movie that never takes off.

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

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