I'll Take You There (1999)
User ReviewsReview this title
Adrienne Shelly, who became something of an independent filmgoers' version of a pin-up role model/icon with her frequent collaboration as filmmaker Hal Hartley's muse, takes her second attempt in the director's chair with a screwball comedy that has earmarks of her auteur, as well as Woody Allen; good for a start.
Bill (Reg Rogers), a successful real estate agent in New York City, is going through the darkest depression of his life. It's been three months since his beautiful sculptress wife Rose (Lara Harris) left him suddenly for his best friend Ray (John Pyper-Ferguson) - who, to make matters worse, bought a secluded house in Upstate New York from Bill - without warning and it has hit him hard, like a ton of bricks. To complicate his already descending spiral is his well-meaning sister Lucy (Shelly) who drops by one day to clean his house, cook him a meal and get him back in the game of life by fixing him up on a blind date with a former college friend who on cue arrives on his doorstep. Bernice - aka CC - (Sheedy in an ebullient, effervescent screwy performance) turns out to be a nightmarish apparition for Bill, who uncharacteristically slights her with a series of heartless, matter-of-fact delivered opines about her: a virtual character assassination.
This horrible evening in a never-ending string of dismal days for the morose Bill only gets worse when he gets in his mind to take his grieving to the next level and decides to pursue his estranged spouse by trading in one of her necklaces at a neighborhood pawnshop for a gun. Upon leaving the helpful proprietor (played by the one and only Ben Vereen!) CC is waiting outside the store for Bill and is clearly not herself and tells him just that. That he has dismantled her spirit and she is a shell of a woman now. In a clumsy attempt at an apology she later revisits him at his apartment and after a series of angry yet comical conversations she finagles a ride to her dying grandmother's home from Bill in his journey to win back Rose which winds up on a serpentine sidetrack after CC robs a dress boutique of its trendy, pricey wares and forced to stay at her grandmother's.
There Bill meets Stella and Max - CC's feisty grandma and her new companion (played by the estimable character actors Drummond and North, respectively of `Awakenings' and the original tv series `Police Squad!' which spawned the `Naked Gun' films) - who show their eccentricities including a bawdy, yet romantic song (`The Bastard Song') - and manage to cast some sort of wonderment over Bill into finally thawing out from his sad hibernation and seeing CC as a sweet, beautiful woman who clearly is more than she appears to be.
Shelly balances the neat highwire act of farce, screwball comedy, buddy-romantic/on-the-road hybrid with potential to spare in this low budget valentine to all those wild spirits with a touch of self-realization (the elderly couple is loosely based on her own grandparents whom she dedicates the film to). The dialogue has its own pizzazz but not as smart as say Woody Allen yet has its own appeal, however wacky and possibly far fetched (the constant `threat' of the gun turns out to be one of the all-time visual gags - when triggered a small American flag pops out), particularly Sheedy's funny speech during the heady climax. Rogers, an area theatrical actor best recognized as one of Julia Roberts' dumpees who sparks Richard Gere to investigate her in `Runaway Bride', is low-key yet very touching and humorous, even when he is on the border of committing either homicide or suicide and suggests a sleep-deprived Griffin Dunne (come to think of it the story also has echoes of Martin Scorsese's `After Hours' about a yuppie lost in NYC's Greenwich Village surrounded by an outlandish, crazy quilt of characters).
What she may lack in cinematic quality - although I did appreciate the hand-held videotape flashback in a painful car ride Bill recalls - Shelly does manage to commit to a story that is recognizable no matter how preposterous or kooky it may be. That's a compliment!
Unlike the more garish "Shallow Hal," which does ask us to consider the less superficial aspects of the meaning and purpose of a relationship, but with stereotypes painted "rather broadly" so to speak, this one approaches the subject with a sharply pointed pencil and a fine-toothed comb. In both films the guy is a dufus who learns to become a mensch. But the girl in this one has a rather paradoxical kind of beauty to her personality that was always there. She becomes likeable precisely because we know that she is different, and not in spite of that fact. Otherwise, it is a splendid fantasy and romance, not to be taken too seriously. We can believe that something like this could happen long enough to enjoy the wonderful story.
"It's a world of suffering,
In a sea of pain,
No matter how much sun you bring,
You're pummeled by the rain...
Don't let the heartless get you down,
Don't greet the heartless at your door,
Don't live among the heartless"
It was nice to see Ally again. She is one of my all time favorite movie actors.
I laughed and cried as the story unfolded. Great story and cast. Well done!
The film begins with Bill's life falling to pieces. Not only has he sold his best friend Ray a beautiful country home, but his wife Rose has left him in order to join Ray in the retreat. All washed up, Bill wallows in his own gloom and doom until his sister Lucy (played by the director Adrienne Shelly) brings him all kinds of surprises: a self-help book and a "date" for her traumatized brother.
The unwilling Bill tries to refuse, but the sudden appearance of Bernice at his door leaves him no choice. No doubt Bernice's initially superficial demeanor and ridiculous hairstyle detract from his ability to "rebound" with her. However, her pseudo-hippie qualities annoy him so much that he lashes at her on their first date. And Bernice is so traumatized by his derogatory remarks that she attaches herself to him, forcing herself upon him. To what end, we are not aware... except for maybe the fact that she is psycho. (And who better to play the psycho than Ally Sheedy?)
Aware that Bill desperately wants to see Rose, Bernice offers her car, but on the condition that he take her somewhere first. On the way, she proceeds to hold Bill prisoner with his own gun (a Pinkerton Detective, no less). An imbroglio of angst, resentment, redemption, passion and violence ensue as Bill and Bernice find themselves on their way to the country home of Ray and Rose... of course, with a few stops along the way.
New York, accompanied by one, now, enamored and conquered Bill (Reg Rogers).The musical background is one of the best I've heard, highlight "Bill Bailey Will not You Came Home?".A real pity that Adrienne Shelly
had died in such a tragic way and only the human stupidity may explain why she is not anymore among us. If she was, certainly in this just moment was making a good movie for us laugh and spend unpretentiously a couple of hours watching it.On a scale of 1 to 10, I vote 9 (excellent).
You know the drill: The antagonist turns out to be a wild, free spirit instead of a sociopath... Toss in a few words of wisdom from Alice Drummond and you have a recipe for Love. Sheedy's 'is she crazy or does she just need a hug?' role from The Breakfast Club simply reeks as a lead character. And all that is left is a truly ghastly turkey of a movie.