Take Me to the River ★★½

A Californian boy and his parents attend a family reunion in Nebraska. The boy, Ryder (Logan Miller), is queer and wishes to come out to his family as gay during the reunion. Once there he spends time playing with his younger female cousins, drawing pictures for them, rather than spending time with the other boys his age.

take me to the riverRyder’s family in Nebraska is strongly conservative and coming out to them would distance him from the family. Despite being accused of sexually abusing his bubbly young cousin, Molly (Ursula Parker), Ryder does not come out as homosexual even though it would save him from accusation.

It is revealed that Ryder’s mother, Cindy (Robin Weigert), and Molly’s father, Keith (Josh Hamilton), had an incestuous relationship in their youth. It is suggested that Keith uses Molly as a proxy in order to enact revenge on Cindy through her son. Keith is jealous of Cindy for being able to receive money from their parents to go to college and live in liberal California while he merely received their parent’s land.

In its short run time- 84 minutes- Take Me to the River is compact with discomforting scene after discomforting scene- a family reunion argument, impromptu singing at dinner, Keith questioning how Ryder is with girls, Keith exhibiting pride in knowing how to use a gun and showing Ryder (whom he clearly hates) how to use one, etc … Although anyone would be hard-pressed to recommend a film like Take Me to the River on basis of its plot, Matt Sobel’s directorial debut is surely a well-written and acted debut film.

Originally a music critic, Alex began his work with film criticism after watching the films of Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman for the first time. From these films, Alex realized that there was much more artistry and depth to filmmaking than he had previously thought. His favorite contemporary directors include Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Terrence Malick.

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