Take Out Girl


Reviewed by: Mateusz Tarwacki

Take Out Girl
"Take Out Girl delivers a simple and well-known lesson: taking a shortcut almost never pays off."

Rap music has its roots on the streets. Good rap sticks to its roots, usually telling the stories of people for whom this life and relationship with the street are nothing but a fate from which it is impossible to escape. They rarely end well, with a primary focus on the emotional approach to a social problem. Good rap is not only musically effective but also socially involved. Hisonni Mustafa (Hisonni Johnson) tries to keep his film going in a similar vein.

In Take Out Girl, young Tera Wong (Hedy Wong) is living in one of Los Angeles's poorer neighbourhoods. She is expelled from school. Her mother, Wavy Wong (Lynna Yee), has difficulty maintaining a Chinese restaurant, suffering from back problems. On the other hand, Tera's brother, Saren (Lorin Alond Ly), does not show sufficient support to the family, and is also associated with the local criminal underworld. Tera herself enters into a complicated relationship with a local gang in her search for a solution to this life impasse, looking for an effective way to support her mother and ensure a future for her family. As it happens in rap – but also in classic fairy tales for example – an unwritten contract that 'magically' solves all problems, does not necessarily have positive consequences.

It may seem that the advantage of the film is that it stays consistent with picturing ethnic minorities. There are surprisingly few white-skinned characters on the screen, who – if they do appear – do not necessarily arouse the viewer's sympathy, such as Tera's teacher (Jeff Zampino). The problem is that virtually all ethnic minority characters are entangled in stereotypical roles: Asian restaurant owner, Mexican boss, Afro-American gang members, and drug users – women of colour.

Although Mustafa's film will not resist accusations of perpetuating unequal and essentially discriminatory patterns, the director is saved from a complete failure by consistency in using the narrative patterns of rap music. Take Out Girl delivers a lesson not only for the main characters of the film, but also for the viewers. A simple and well-known lesson: taking a shortcut almost never pays off.

Is Take Out Girl more than a colourful episode of a well-known theme? Probably not. Is it a film that has the potential to be remembered by viewers? It’s doubtful. The upsides, however, are the benevolent intentions of the creator and seeing less known faces on the screen. Perhaps it lacks the bite and dynamics of rap music – Take Out Girl is not exactly a successful film, but if it were a song, it would be a good one.

Take Out Girl is available to purchase or rent from 18 May.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2021
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Take Out Girl packshot
To give her family a chance at a better life and save her family's failing restaurant, a young woman parlays her Chinese food delivery expertise into a profitable drug hustle.

Director: Hisonni Mustafa

Writer: Hisonni Mustafa

Starring: Hedy Wong, Ski Carr, Lynna Yee, J Teddy Garces

Year: 2020

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: US


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