Director Scott Tanner Jones‘ directorial debut Take Care is an achievement in dramatic character building. Stars Ryan Driscoll and Elise Ivy drive the film with their strong and fragile performances, giving enough emotion and weight to the roles to make them worthy of watching for the next two hours. Take Care may look like an ordinary drama between two former best friends, but it’s actually an effective character-driven drama that lingers on secrets, past regret and the ability to change.
Erin (Ryan Driscoll) is still trying to figure out what exactly she wants to do with her life. She’s a firm and willing individual that appears to have everything, but desperately seeks out more. Her boyfriend Ian (Armand Desharnais) supports her, but doesn’t believe in her and that drives Erin crazy. She’s looking for a job, but not having any luck. Her luck becomes worse when an old friend shows up and puts a massive kink in her life’s chain.
Kaylie (Elise Ivy) shows up at Erin’s doorstep out of nowhere. The two were old college friends, but a later-revealed fallout explains why they haven’t kept in close touch over the years. Kaylie’s husband has up and left her for another woman, which has left her with an open invitation to visit an old friend and hopefully start a new life. Kaylie appears to be slightly off her rocker and kind of odd and that initially alarms Erin and her boyfriend, but they both excuse it as a result of her husband leaving.
What follows is a dramatic twist of events that digs deeper into Erin and Kaylie’s past, while also bringing up their conflicted present and possible futures.
Scott Tanner Jones uses his entire $25,000 budget to its maximum potential, often borrowing friends’ houses to shoot specific scenes. He’s most interested in telling the complex story between Erin and Kaylie and not so much the world around them, so most of the film takes place indoors and in small, closed areas. He keeps things traditional and never really ventures into the unknown when establishing camera placement and general movement. Take Care isn’t a technical achievement at all, but Jones shows his understanding of how to film a drama.
Where the film sticks out is the relationship between its core two characters Erin and Kaylie. Jones’ two stars Ryan Driscoll and Elise Ivy give two home run performances that are completely detailed and dimensioned. Everything about Erin and Kaylie is described with honest emotion that brings the two together in a clash of built-up feelings that have been dormant for so many years.
Ryan Driscoll must be commended for her role. Erin is a box of surprises, acting sporadically and speaking her mind as much as possible. She’s not your normal woman in distress and much more her own individual that doesn’t care for handouts or demands. Driscoll understands just how far to take Erin before the audience stops feeling sorry for her. Erin is doing a lot of soul searching throughout the film and some of that results in pain caused to other characters, but Driscoll never turns us against Erin. She’s always likable and forward with her feelings.
Elise Ivy approaches Kaylie with a lot of subtle reveals. The character comes out of nowhere and tries her best to avoid explaining her past, but Ivy slowly lets out Kaylie’s true intentions and it provides great contrast to Erin.
The film takes its time establishing the story and that might be its only downfall. Structuring a slow-burn drama is always a tricky thing to do and while Scott Tanner Jones does a good job building up the drama, there are a handful of short scenes that could have been left on the cutting room floor without taking away too much from the film. But still, just when the film feels like it’s losing you it drops a third act revelation that comes out of the lurking shadows after much brewing.
It’s at this moment where the film kicks into gear. From this point on the film dips into some heavy material that is held up by Driscoll and Ivy and backed by Jones’ direction. Off topic post-party banter quickly turns into first-class drama as Take Care reestablishes itself as a moving first entry from director Scott Tanner Jones.
I’m still reeling from Take Care‘s lingering finale that’ll keep you numb well into the credits. It’s not completely out of left field, but it’s built up and brilliantly executed. Most of Take Care can be credited as a robust and mostly impressive drama that makes good use out of its leads, but the ending heightens the film and makes it something much more noteworthy.
Take Care – 6.5/10
*You can find more about Take Care on the film’s official Facebook page.*