Take Me is a study in economic filmmaking. It’s the latest film produced by The Duplass Brothers, who have made a name for themselves by cranking out films with minuscule budgets at a remarkable pace. While the results have been uneven, the Duplasses have always seemed to understand that you don’t need money to make a film worth watching – you need a solid hook and strong characters. Take Me has both, and while it’s not exactly hard to figure out where the whole thing is going, it’s a fun twisted little ride getting there.
The film is showcase for Pat Healy who directs and stars. Healy, who has turned in spectacular performances in films like The Innkeepers, Compliance, and the pitch black comedy Cheap Thrills will hopefully get a bit of additional exposure as Ray Moody a self proclaimed entrepreneur who operates Kidnap Solutions, LLC, a business that specializes in abducting its clients and running them through simulated kidnappings as an alternative therapy. After running into some legal problem in New Jersey, he’s relocated the business to Los Angeles, where he’s found it difficult to find funding. Bank managers don’t seem to understand his business and for some reason they want to know if Roy is a licensed therapist. He is not. Close to throwing in the towel, he gets a lucky break when a woman calls requesting a full weekend kidnapping with a few off-the-menu extras and she’s willing to pay for it.
The mark is Anna St. Clair, played by Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black), a wealthy business consultant. But as the job gets underway, things start to go sideways. Roy soon discovers that the police are looking for the missing Anna St. Clair and the client he’s tied up in his basement might not know this is a simulation, which raises the question: who hired Roy, and why do they want Anna to disappear?
Take Me is a great example of storytelling within means. In his first feature-length work, screenwriter Mike Makowsky has created a narrative of such refined scope, that it never feels like its pressing up against its tiny budget. The lion’s share of the film consists primarily of Healy and Schilling in isolated locations, but the two have such dynamic chemistry and the writing is tight enough that the film never sags. Healy gives a surprisingly nuanced performance, playing Roy as something of a sheep in wolf’s clothing until the escalating situation reveals some of the darker side of his inner nature. Schilling plays the damsel with just enough edge and ambiguity to keep things interesting even if there’s very little in Take Me that’s truly unexpected.
Pat Healy delivers as strong directorial debut while turning in a good performance, which is a feat in and of itself. While Makowsky’s scripts is fun and economical, it’s also fairly formulaic. Take Me is a film much more about the journey than it is the destination, and Healy, for the most part, is successful in getting by on charm alone.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
Films like Take Me exemplify how a good story told simply is more important than a big budget. It isn’t the best film to come out of the Duplass camp, that crown still belongs to 2015’s Creep, but it’s close. Pat Healy proves himself a talent behind the camera as well as in front, making a fine comedic duo with Taylor Schilling. For those paying attention, there will likely be little doubt as to where the film is heading, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a decent bit of fun getting there.
Take Me will be premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival before being released in theatres on May 5.