Take

Take

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Since receiving a lukewarm critical reception for 2004's big screen adaptation of The Phantom Of The Opera and teen fairytale Ella Enchanted, Minnie Driver has been devoting much of her efforts to the small screen, notching up several episodes in US shows Will & Grace and The Riches.

It's a shame, since, her performance in Take - the directorial debut of Charles Oliver - clearly demonstrates she has lost none of her ability to deftly carry a movie and, importantly, give it emotional depth.

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She plays Ana, a mum grappling with inner demons as she heads to visit a man in prison ("He's a monster, and I want to make sure people don't forget").

The man in question, Saul, is played by Jeremy Renner with the same sort of distilled intensity he brought to the role of Neo Ned. Mentally, Saul is on the same page as Ana ("I pray to God she hates me") and is clearly due for release... the sort that will see him meeting his maker.

The film interweaves the events that lead up to the point where Saul's life collides with that of Ana and her son Jesse the first time, and those that see them meet again, linking them cleverly to build suspense.

Oliver and director of photographyTristan Whitman have created an excellent look, using a bleached-out colour palette to good advantage. Oliver also has a keen eye for framing and it is to his credit that he ellicits a compelling performance from 10-year-old Bobby Coleman, perfectly believable as Jesse, a kid with attention-span problems.

It is the plodding plotting which ultimately puts the brakes on, however. Although, intitially, the swinging perspective from Ana to Saul creates a dramatic momentum, several scenes - particularly those in which Saul talks about all things biblical with CSI: Miami veteran Adam Rodriguez - drag, reducing the tension everyone has worked so hard to create.

Equally, despite its deliberately non-linear storyline, the simple fact that we see clearly where Saul is at the start of the movie, inevitability diminishes the climax - although, just because you can see the road ahead, doesn't mean the journey is devoid of interest.

This is an uneven directorial debut - but not an unaccomplished one. Oliver is a name to look out for - it would be great to see what would happen if he worked with someone else's script.

Reviewed on: 10 Jun 2007
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Tragedy ensues after two lives collide.

Director: Charles Oliver

Writer: Charles Oliver

Starring: Minnie Driver, Jeremy Renner, Bobby Coleman, David Denman, Adam Rodriguez, Bill McKinney, Emily Harrison, Griff Furst, Patrick Brennan, Tom Schmid, Jessica Stier

Year: 2007

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: USA

Festivals:

Tribeca 2007

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