EmptyTribeca Film Festival
NEW YORK -- Stylistically as well as thematically complex, Charles Oliver's ambitious debut feature deals with two fateful encounters between a mother and the criminal whose reckless violence caused their fates to be forever entwined. Starring Minnie Driver and Jeremy Renner, "Take" is grueling, hard-to-take drama that is well worth the viewer's effort. The film recently received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Oliver's screenplay goes back and forth in time between the past, when struggling mother Ana (Driver) is spending the day with her 7-year-old son Jesse (Bobby Coleman) and the present, with convicted killer Saul (Renner) in jail.
As events unfold, we learn that Saul kidnapped Jesse during a supermarket robbery that went awry, with the ensuing police pursuit resulting in the young boy's death. Now Ana is visiting Saul in prison in order to confront him before his impending execution.
The details of the alternating stories are not particularly interesting or original. Saul, a gambling addict, resorts to crime only because of the desperation of his circumstances; Ana is struggling with tensions in her marriage caused by financial problems and her son's learning disability. Still, "Take" ultimately is haunting for the precision of its visual style.
In the lengthy sequence depicting the robbery and its tragic aftermath, the film vividly conveys through bravura camerawork and editing the heart-stopping manner in which pivotal seconds can seem like absolute eternity.
Both performers are excellent in roles that could have devolved into cliche. Driver's grief-stricken mother is a complex figure who is able to find forgiveness in her heart as well as anger, while Renner conveys well the fear and panic that caused his character's descent into violence.
Director-screenwriter: Charles Oliver
Producer: Chet Thomas
Executive producers: Tyler Meason, Brady Whittingham, John Linden, Ryan Oliver
Director of photography: Tristan Whitman
Production designer: Luke Freeborn
Music: Roger Niell
Costume designer: Jayme Bohn
Editor: Andrew McAllister
Ana Nichols: Minnie Driver
Saul Gregor: Jeremy Renner
Jesse Nichols: Bobby Coleman
Steven: Adam Rodriguez
Marty Nichols: David Denman
Wendy: Emily Harrison
Running time -- 99 minutes
No MPAA rating