Updating a bizarre short story about a rape victim turned vigilante, Carlos Saura’s “Shoot!” is an unmoving mix of modern psychology applied to a world of freaks and outsiders. Arthouse fans of Spanish director Saura will wonder what’s up, but action markets may bite.
Ana (played by Italo thesp Francesca Neri) is a dazzling circus performer who has a sharpshootingact on horseback. Reporter Marcos (Antonio Banderas) fast becomes a regular in Ana’s caravan and he discovers a sensitive, affectionate heart behind her tigerish exterior.
Their romance reaches a turning point, with the circus due to move on and Marcos having distant assignments. The night before their crucial rendezvous, Ana is brutally raped by three young mechanics.
Seriously wounded and mentally deranged, Ana shoots the rapists dead and drives off into the Spanish countryside, growing weaker by the minute. The law finally tracks her down, holed up in a farmer’s cottage with three hostages.
The pic tries to justify Ana’s murderous rampage through psychologically extenuating circumstances. But the sequence of her killing two motorcycle cops on her trail is clumsily handled, neither suspenseful nor believable.
Much of the tale’s dramatic potential drains away in filmic cliches, such as the exasperating around-the-clock updates on the case by every TV and radio station.
Saura’s personal touches emerge from time to time, like the long opening aerial shot of Madrid’s outskirts, finishing on a zoom into a circus tent, that sets the story in its social context.
As the lovelorn but practical journo, Banderas blends into the woodwork. Neri , however, is a sheer delight in her chameleonlike changes from glam circus star to vulnerable woman in love to a tough, mentally detonated sharpshooter, stripped of pride, hope and humanity.