Take

"Good"

Take Review


Minnie Driver's Ana is all stillness and poise, but there is something tentative about the depths of her eyes, the cool, sad look of a person who can see the cloud of tragedy overtake her. She is balanced on the edge of a blade.

In Charles Oliver's terminally bleak Take -- a crime victim's tale about a mother's worst nightmare, the violent murder of her young child in the heat and confusion of a supermarket holdup and her obsession with confronting the murderer -- the smell of desperation pervades the emotion of the film like a third character. In spite of the sadness that befalls Ana over the course of this sorrowful film, Driver maintains Ana as a regal presence in this kingdom of gloom. When Ana objects to her son, Jesse's (Bobby Coleman) grade school principal informing Ana that her son will be shipped out to a special school and is told after her protests, "I am sorry, but you no longer have a choice in the matter," it is almost as if an underling is defying the Virgin Queen.

Ana's counterpart is the hapless killer Saul (Jeremy Renner), her spiritual twin. Saul inhabits the same blighted landscape of crumbling, worn-out homes, deadening strip malls, and fetid rust, but Saul is weak and is buffeted by the forces of evil and unable to cling to his dignity. His old, used car is infested by fast food wrappers and cups -- the throwaway debris that is Saul's life. Inevitably, Saul is sucked into a desperate robbery where he fatally confronts Ana and her beloved Jesse. The tragedy that results shatters them both.

Oliver holds onto a melancholy, decimated atmosphere employing jagged flashbacks. The color palette is desaturated, the colors of this world finally reduced to weak duotones as the lives intersect at Saul's robbery. With a controlled cinematic style, Oliver constructs the lives of his characters with inserts of objects and facial expressions, pieces of captured time that tell the stories. As a formal exercise in pent-up and unleashed emotion, Take is intense and difficult to watch. In particular is the climactic robbery that the film leads up to, which is harrowing, stark, and surprising in its unchained violence.

As a writer, though, Oliver lets the movie down. Saul's establishing scenes are pure movie clichés (the inciting point has a lowlife come to collect $2,000 from Saul and is warned "If you can't pay, you can't pay" like a Neville Brand gangster from a '50s film noir). Most egregious of all are a series of flashbacks with Saul (who is awaiting his execution) and a well-meaning priest. The characters argue philosophical points ("How does God chose who gets what plan?") as if the film suddenly becomes an episode of the old Sunday morning religious show The Christophers. And please, let's not talk about Minnie Driver's alternate-career music bleating out sporadically in the landscape. The songs are as incongruous as Judy Garland singing "The Theme to Judgment at Nuremberg." To make matters worse, the concluding confrontation between Ana and Saul comes across as too pat and unconvincing, given the pure hell that Oliver has put his two characters through before this moment.

Distractions these may be, but the film still retains power. Driver holds the film together with her modulated intensity. When she pleads, after the horrific robbery, insisting someone do something about her son, her control crumbles and she screams to anyone who will listen, "But he's my son! He's my little boy" with all the powerless desperation she can muster.

And Oliver, in a single brilliant shot, manages to capture the wretchedness of these lives that is emblematic of the film itself. Shot looking out from the seedy storage rental company where Saul works and looking out at Saul's dumpy car, the phone rings monotonously and unanswered in the office while Saul, in his car, keeps turning his key in the ignition trying to get the battery to turn over. Finally giving up, Saul leaves the car, slams the door, and smashes the window -- Saul taking out the dead-end feelings of his annihilated life on his dead-end car.

Eh, you can keep her.



Take

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th July 2008

Distributed by: Liberation Entertainment

Production compaines: Crossing Paths

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Charles Oliver

Producer: Chet Thomas

Starring: as Ana, as Saul, as Jesse, as Marty Nichols, as Steven, Bill McKinney as Benjamin Gregor, Emily Harrison as Wendy, as The Mechanic, as Incensed Man, Tom Schmid as Boss, Jessica Stier as Mrs. Bachanas, Rocky Marquette as Mark, Paul Schackman as Sam, as Shoe Sales Girl, Patrick Dollaghan as Supervising Officer, Michael Ciulla as Chuck, Shane Woodson as Older Mechanic, Courtenay Taylor as Truck Driver, as Terrel, Rob Elk as Senile Man, Lisa Robert as Female Bartender, Richard Bairos as Male Customer, Veronica Lauren as Female Patron, Theo Nicholas Pagones as The Pharmacist, as Truck Woman, Edward James Gage as Older man, Keith Biondi as Camper Man, Willie C. Carpenter as Aging Man, Todd Waring as Loud Talker, Kendall Clement as Guard #1, Andrew Thacher as Guard #2, as Runyan, Katia Louise as Waitress, Connie Wong as Pregnant Lady

Also starring:

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