Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (4/5)

When life doesn’t quite turn out as planned, it’s easy to become frustrated, cynical and embittered, falling into a trap of unrelenting wallowing and victimhood from which it’s difficult to escape. But what will staying in such a rut accomplish? That’s the harsh reality that an aspiring but unsuccessful Bay Area filmmaker (Justin H, Min) must face when his plans never materialize as hoped for, circumstances that taint his overall outlook and impact other areas of his life, such as his increasingly strained relationship with his live-in girlfriend (Ally Maki). To address these issues, he frequently seeks the advice of his best friend/confidante, a wisecracking, serial-dating lesbian (Sherry Cola) whose own life is more than a little dysfunctional. Their friendship is thus essentially tantamount to an ongoing exercise in misery loves company. But the unfulfilled auteur is suddenly and unexpectedly forced to get off the dime when his significant other announces that she’s moving to New York to accept an internship, leaving him alone in Berkeley. So what is he to do now? That’s what he’s about to find out. However, this unforeseen time by himself proves to be a dual-edged sword, an opportunity for newfound personal freedom but also a time in which he’s forced to get his life back on track, a dicey struggle in many respects – not to mention one filled with ample unanticipated fallout. This smartly written offering is full of eye-opening, unexpected plot twists, but they never feel forced, and they’re often quite revelatory about the protagonist’s true nature. In doing so, the picture successfully and intriguingly combines multiple genres, including romantic comedies tinged with elements typical of character studies, matinee dramas and hard-hitting social commentaries. Debut director Randall Park has also infused this release with an array of biting one-liners and a pervasively edgy quality when it comes to the true nature of relationships, an attribute not unlike that found in films like “(500) Days of Summer” (2009), “Bros” (2022), “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018), and even such Woody Allen projects as “Manhattan” (1979) and “Annie Hall” (1977). What’s more, “Shortcomings” is not afraid to show the unflattering sides of otherwise-likable characters, a theme frequently seen in the movies of filmmakers like Nicole Holofcener. Because of all this, there’s a certain brusqueness to the narrative and the characters that some viewers might find off-putting, but that’s also one of this production’s innate beauties in that it serves up an unbridled authenticity not often seen in pictures like this. Even though this release had a brief theatrical run late last summer, it’s largely gone unnoticed. Thankfully, however, it’s now available for streaming online and makes for a frank but refreshing watch compared to many other comparable offerings, one that gives us all a lot to think about.