Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tribeca ’17: Take Me

Frankly, in today’s neurotic world, the concept behind Ray Moody’s Kidnap Solutions, LLC has commercial potential. His simulated kidnappings offer aversion therapy (in the tradition of the Tales from the Darkside episode, “Bigalow’s Last Smoke”) and fetishistic escapism. He just isn’t the right person to realize its potential. Anna St. Blair would be the perfect client to spread word-of-mouth, but it is unclear whether she really is a willing customer. The kidnapper and kidnappee may have been set-up in Pat Healy’s Take Me (trailer here), which screens during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

There was a time when Kidnap Solutions was growing in leaps and bounds. Sadly, when Moody’s ex-wife walked out on him, she left him holding the bag for a kidnapping that went awry. Personally and professionally, he still has not recovered from her betrayal. However, the lucrative gig St. Blair is offering will give him a bit of the seed capital he has been seeking. The only catch is her request for more rough stuff than he is ordinarily comfortable with.

When the abduction starts, St. Blair seems genuinely terrified. When she is subsequently reported missing, Moody realizes he might be in serious legal trouble. Rather awkwardly, St. Blair does not seem inclined to forgive and forget, so he will have to hold onto her until he can convince her to see reason.

As lead actor and debut director, Healy has crafted a spritely farce seasoned with tar-black humor. This is a comedy that draws blood (all of it his own). Arguably, he is his own best asset, playing Moody as a likably nebbish striver in the tradition of Willy Loman (wearing a balaclava). Even when we laugh at his humiliation, we sort of want to see him overcome. As the second half of the more-or-less two-hander, Taylor Schilling is a smart, forceful, and altogether worthy foil.

Granted, the predictable predictableness of the final twist is maybe not so surprising, but the film is more about the verbal sparring and gamesmanship of the two leads than the actual power reversals. It is just good fun to watch and listen to Healy and Schilling verbally spar. It is a relatively modest production, but if Take Me becomes a hit, Healy and Schilling could perform it on stage as a nostalgia act for years to come. Recommended for viewers who enjoy a bit of shaggy dog mayhem, Take Me screens again tomorrow (4/27), Friday (4/28), and Saturday (4/29), as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.