First things first: Dispel all associations with David Fincher’s The Game when approaching Take Me, Pat Healy’s nasty little quasi-comedy about people who pay to have themselves kidnapped. The operation here is much more humble than the shadowy, powerful one toying with super-rich executives there: Think one man with a van, who will imprison you for eight hours, traumatizing you just enough to help break your addiction to junk food. Starring opposite Taylor Schilling in his first feature as director, Healy knows exactly the mix of comical bumbling and psychological tension he wants here, executing the premise in a way sure to please fans of his distinctive body of work (Cheap Thrills being this film’s closest cousin) and impress a few new ones along the way. The Duplass Brothers production has more commercial appeal than would be suggested by its distribution strategy, which follows a Tribeca Film Festival bow with a two-city theatrical plus VOD release.
We meet Ray (Healy) as he sits at the desk of a bank’s loan officer, making a polished sales pitch for his unusual business. We employ “nuanced psychotherapeutic techniques,” he tells the woman, helping clients work through their personal issues in an unconventional way. She doesn’t buy his justifications, and she knows something went wrong with the company’s previous incarnation in Atlantic City — a misstep Ray would rather not discuss. But when we see him in action, it’s clear that Ray provides a service people (and not just sado-masochists) do want. No matter how intimidating he is while he’s on the clock, his clients thank him and compliment his professionalism once the restraints come off.
Funny and mean, with the edge fans have come to associate with Healy’s acting career.
Ray’s latest client is to be Anna St. Blair (Schilling), an executive who interviews Ray by phone for the job and insists that he make one exception to his usual policy: If he’ll slap her around while she’s in his custody, she’ll pay much more than his usual fee. Considering the woeful state of his bank account — his sister is hounding him to shut the disgraceful business down — he agrees. He stalks St. Blair from afar, learning her routines, then kidnaps her as promised. Then things start to go wrong.
In the two-hander action that results, the balance of psychological power shifts back and forth between captor and client. Working with a sharp script by Mike Makowsky, Healy refuses to let us know what to believe. Is Ray actually inept at what he does, his act as shoddy as the hairpiece he wears? Is St. Blair somehow related to the incident that derailed Kidnap Solutions’ early success? And what happened there, anyway? Healy and Schilling enjoy a fine rapport, letting antagonism shift toward empathy and back again. The sometimes caustic banter and the pic’s will-he-get-caught tension makes this one suspense film in which being able to guess the end doesn’t spoil the fun.
Production company: Duplass Brothers Productions
Distributor: The Orchard
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Pat Healy, Alycia Delmore, Jim O’Heir
Director: Pat Healy
Screenwriter: Mike Makowsky
Producers: Mel Eslyn, Sev Ohanian
Executive producers: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Director of photography: Nathan M. Miller
Production designer: Angel Herrera
Costume designer: Lindsay Monahan
Editor: Brian Scofield
Composer: Heather McIntosh
Casting director: Amey Rene
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Narrative)