Harrowing Journeys

Imagine facing the man who killed someone you love, moments before his execution. What would you say to him? Director Charles Oliver poses this question in Take, a film that takes place over two days, several years apart. British actress Minnie Driver plays Ana, a wife and mother driving across the desert to speak for the first and final time to the man who destroyed her family. Jeremy Renner is Saul, the burdened offender preparing for his own death. Oliver intersperses scenes of their daily lives, deftly using episodes and single moments to craft parallel universes for both criminal and victim.

The film opens in the present time. For both Ana and Saul, life has become dry and quiet since the murder seven years ago. Saul’s empty cell is a dull, clinical white—the only sounds are his shuffling and the clinking of chains and handcuffs. Ana drives her dusty old car to the prison across a spare, sun-bleached desert. The sun seems to have baked all of the softness and health out of her. They both mutter to themselves as they get closer to the execution, reliving moments from the day of the crime up to the point of the murder. “I was born alone, and today I’ll die alone, and everything in between is my choice,” Saul tells the frustrated minister who visits him. “Don’t tell me about God’s plan.” Ana tells anybody who will listen that justice is “meted out slowly, continuously, year after year,” and that she’s one of the few people who will make sure it gets done. The film’s pace is slow and exact. There is no wasted word or scene.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2008
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