Unlikable Lead Sinks Shortcomings

August 4, 2023

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1 star

In Shortcomings, Sherry Cola plays Alice, a bright, sassy single grad student looking for love, or at least good sex, in Berklee. It’s a fun, well-written part, and Cola gives a lively yet insightful performance.

In the same movie, Ally Maki plays Miko, a film festival organizer, on a journey of self-discovery that will ultimately take her to New York. Although she doesn’t have much screen time, Maki makes Miko memorable.

The pair don’t share any scenes in Shortcomings, which is a shame. Maki and Cola are sp vibrant in the movie that you can feel the screen darken every time the camera moves away. Cola has the showier role, filled with witty (and cutting) dialogue that cuts through a lot of the bullshit that surrounds her. Alice knows her life is far from perfect, but she owns her imperfections in an empowering way. The role of Miko is richer, with a more defined character arc that takes her from the prison of being a +1 in Ben’s life to the freedom of living a life that she’s made on her own. It would be great to see Maki and Cola paired up in a film someday.

Unfortunately, Shortcomings isn’t about Alice or Miko. It’s the story of Ben (Justin Min), a pretentious wannabe filmmaker who spends his days managing a rundown movie house when he’s not watching ‘classic’ films. Although he will be the first to tell you, ad nauseam, that cinema is his life, Ben’s only natural talent seems to be finding fault in everyone and everything around him. In a six-year relationship with Miko, Asian-American Ben is obsessed with White women. He’d rather watch Caucasian porn than share any intimacy with his live-in Asoan-American girlfriend.

Ben is easily one of the most unlikable leading characters ever written into a rom-com, and no amount of relief from Alice or Miko can make sitting there listening to Ben spout out his never-ending dribble about life and cinema worth sitting through Shortcomings. Completists, or those helpless romantics, will want to hang in there waiting to see some redemption in Ben. In your heart, you know there is none.


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