The Loner lives in Chicago, a place that he calls home - despite all the weird people that live there. Follow The Loner through a regular day in Chicago, and join in on the odd encounters that surround him.
After many years of dreaming, debut feature director Nick Alonzo decided to create a personal piece that would become "Shitcago". With a small budget and surrounded by friends, he went out into the city of Chicago shooting on location (without permit, which would come to cause some problems). This is always extremely admirable. Making a feature is hard and it can take a very long time. Despite the respect I have for filmmakers going after their dreams, I can't lie in my review, and "Shitcago" is not a movie that I found much pleasure in watching.
Somewhat autobiographical, "Shitcago" portrays Nick Alonzo's love/hate relationship with the city of Chicago and the people in it. It takes place during a day in the life of The Loner, a young man who just happens to attract a lot of strange people whenever he goes out in the street. He's asked to help strangers with their photographes, asked for smokes, thrown into one-sided arguments, hearing the opinions of pretentious art hipsters and so on. Each and every encounter is met the same way by The Loner: with indifference.
The quality of "Shitcago" is far from great, but that's not a problem. I've admired the work of filmmaker's with similar style (and I don't doubt that this is equally a style as it is a restriction in budget/equipment) and I have no issue with it. The style that Nick Alonzo has decided to use with his debut feature is not horrible. Some audio issues, basic cinematography, you name it. This is fine, and being accepting movies of this quality definitely gives the independent filmmakers a better chance at telling their stories. Not all stories need fancy equipment and all that.
The issue I have with "Shitcago" is in the actual content and story. It's obviously what Nick Alonzo wanted to make. It's about the weird encounters that can happen on the streets on Chicago (and many that have happened to him through the years of living there). It's just that these encounters don't really stand out as anything peculiar on film. It's people saying things that are a bit odd, but having a movie built around encounter after encounter, where the oddest it actually gets is someone who is a bit aggressive for no reason. We get it, it's something that you would react to if it happens to you. The movie doesn't try to shy away from being mundane, so my criticism is probably the exact reasons some people enjoy it too.
Because "Shitcago" is as basic on a technical level as it is, and it features very bland meetings, it's just hard for the movie to stand out. It doesn't help when the main character, The Loner, is intentionally not reacting to anything. He's just there. Yet again I have to disagree with the choices of the filmmaker here. There is probably something deeper to say about the lead character just ignoring all of these meetings. It's a "just another day" thing. I get that. But again, I am watching a movie and there are many more interesting movies out there that tell mundane stories. It's been done by Woody Allen for decades. Kevin Smith brought it into modern pop culture. Tiny names are rising in the independent scene in recent years such as Pablo D'Stair, who continues to make "simple" films but that all have something unique to them.
Look, I don't live in Chicago and I feel no locational love or fascination for places I've lived in, so perhaps this movie is not for me. This is a movie that shows a regular day full of encounters with people in Chicago. It might succeed in doing what it wanted, but I don't feel that it actually had much to tell me. The encounters are not interesting enough, which ultimately leads to most encounters feeling the same. There are several times in cinema where mundanity has had something to say, I don't know if there was anything here that was needed to be told. Sometimes that's okay. Hell, it's okay in "Shitcago" too, but it doesn't make for an exciting watch.