Take Me to the River (2015) Poster

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Creepy and hypnotic
A_Different_Drummer21 June 2016
In other reviews I have talked about the hidden eco-system within the modern film. It is a system with its own boundaries and borders and rhythms. Most Hollywood films do not explore the possibilities of this world in depth, but Sobel more than makes up for that in this film. Every shot, every scene, every nuance of the incredibly sparse dialog shows you what is possible, how to get the most from the least.

It is a good solid effort and if you are hooked by the opening premise, you will be hooked all the way through.

That said, I was surprised when I read the IMDb "summary" for the film because the information there goes far beyond the clues and puzzle pieces in then actual film, and frankly that summary "assumes" the viewer has access to more information about the story (right off the top) than than most viewers will actually have.

The acting is first rate. Watching what happens when the world's most naive 17 year old boy meets the world's most sophisticated 9 year old "Lolita" is like watching a play within a play. And works on many levels since, in spite of the sparse dialog, the story itself is like an onion, with layers to peel back as you try to understand it.

Big fan of Weigert ever since Deadwood, where she stole entire episodes from heavyweight actors.

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Was too drawn out for what it turned out to be
lexayers18 August 2018
This movie was way too drawn out and had no solution or resolution other than them not facing the problem. The characters were annoying. It contained things that were going on or mentioned that made you think there was more to it than it seemed but in actuality had nothing to do with anything. Even though you wouldn't suspect what the overall issue was you kinda didn't care once it was brought to the surface because of how long it took as well as realizing that the initial incident that caused everything is never explained.
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Could have been good...
Red_Identity29 June 2016
A film that feels like it's good, but it's really rather insufferable at every turn, with characters doing really stupid, nonsensical things. It feels like a film that the director thought was really something quite special and that feeling makes you dislike it more. I guess it's not awful, and there's something to say for it always kind of remaining interesting, but that also makes you feel more cheated because it feels like it has a lot of things going on under the surface and it really doesn't. Definitely infuriating, no doubt. The acting is solid for the most part, although there is some broad characterization in some of the performances. Just not very recommended, in all honesty.
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Intentionally frustrating, strongly acted
Stovepipe9928 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A young man visiting relatives in rural Nebraska goes into a barn to play a game with a 9 year old cousin. She emerges screaming from the barn with a blood-stained dress and, to put it mildly, things go downhill from there.

The strongest element of this film is also the element that makes it the most frustrating as a viewer--namely this is a movie that commits completely to holding the point of view of the main character, Ryder. There are undercurrents of emotion and resentment roiling beneath the setting of a folksy family reunion, in particular some very strained and strange dynamics between Ryder's mother and her brother (the father of the 9 year old girl). Ryder is totally lost at sea because not only is he on unfamiliar ground (a gay, California city boy out in the country), but his parents and especially his mother behave in a seemingly irrational manner as events continue to escalate.

By the middle of the movie I was thinking "Will someone just PLEASE explain what is going on here?!?!?!". On the one hand, I appreciate that this is exactly how Ryder himself must feel. But on the other hand, I got anxious and frustrated waiting for the film to reveal the background context needed to understand what was happening--to the point that it was hard to sit through scene after scene of coded conversations and meaningful looks.

I thought that the acting was very strong across the board, including the children.

Aside from feeling like the limited point-of-view was a double-edged sword, my only other criticism is that there were certain character actions that were just way too illogical or dumb. For example, despite the fact that he was all but accused of molesting his cousin, Ryder several times allows himself to be alone with other young girls without any other adults even in earshot. I just didn't believe it. Why if you had been accused (and also implicitly threatened) would you ever allow yourself to be in a position again where there were no witnesses to your behavior? There were a few character decisions (necessary to move the plot along) that didn't feel like real character choices--and they stand out because for the most part the acting and writing does come across as very realistic.

Generally speaking this is one I'd recommend, especially if you can watch it for free on a streaming service as I did.
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um, what?
nikster-4873115 September 2018
So weird...although all the reviewers that say it's a thinker are right but damn it's still not worth the time wasted watching it to find out the OLD SECRET fueling the extrenely annoying mom character's perma-almost cry face. Ick. Hated it. And no closure..
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A Haunting, Sad, Amazing, Beautiful, Impactful Emotional Ride of a Lifetime
briandouglasnv5 July 2016
I was bored during the holiday in this movie came across Amazon. I read the description and wasn't really sure but it looked like a decent enough independent film. Since I'm becoming a bigger fan of independent films lately because of the dribble that Hollywood is putting out, I figured this was something that might entertain me.

I was completely wrong...it not only entertained me but it floored me. I'm not truly sure how to describe this movie. It's not a horror movie, as it has no gore or blood or anything else, but it's also not NOT a horror movie, because of the events that take place throughout this movie.

The truth is I have honestly not seen a movie quite so impactful in probably 10 years. I'm going to list a few things for those of you who have not seen it and will do so without giving away any spoilers I promise. I am going to give you some advance knowledge that I believe will help you watch the movie in a more enjoyable way. If you don't want any advance advice about the movie then stop reading here but I'm definitely not going to give away any spoilers.

1. Go into this movie with an open mind and be prepared to think about EVERY word that is spoken and EVERY action that is taken by EVERY character in the movie regardless of how small. The littlest most insignificant things that take place in this movie can mean so much in later parts of the movie when you're trying to figure out exactly what is going on.

2. Don't give up quickly on the movie when you believe in your mind that the big reveal has been given away in the first 15 minutes. It only seems that way. Keep that open mind going and watch the remainder of the film.

3. Immerse yourself in this film and don't do anything else while you're watching it. Don't check your phone, don't play games, don't talk to anybody in the room. Sit in your most comfortable chair and immerse yourself in the movie like you would a good book. Failing to do so will make you wonder what you missed and require you to go backward in the movie and trust me when I tell you, you don't want to watch too much of this twice in the same sitting.

All of that said this movie has some very beautiful scenery and is shot well. I have no complaints whatsoever about the cinematography nor do I have any complaints about the story or the plot. This movie stands for itself and it is what it is.

I hope you enjoy it like I did.
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Edhager772 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I was enthralled by the movie, and had my guesses as to what was going on, but I was completely let down at the end. Ryder's family were more worried about "keeping the peace" instead of standing up for their own son? I get a lot of Californians are wanting peace, but really? The dad wasn't even interested in it, except to say he doesn't want violence. First off, I would never have let my 17 year old, gay or not, go off with a 9 year old alone. That's asking for trouble. What parents do not open up to their son when he is being molested by a 9 year old and never seems to understand what's going on? The uncle was way too bi-polar! I'm sorry, but you don't go from accusing a 17 year old of molestation to "hey, let's be buddies." I understand there was a feeling of unease the director wanted to give the audience, but at least explain at some point what is going on. It would have better served the audience if at least the uncle or the mother explained it better than, "It was her idea."
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Ita-Ray20 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
First review on here.

At first I couldn't figure out what was going on but eventually got it at the end.

*SPOILER ALERT* Like, I couldn't figure out why the family stayed instead of leaving after the assumptions. Why his uncle was semi accusing him but invited him over for lunch. Why it came off like he was prostituting his daughter. Was his (the uncle) wife oblivious to what was going on? This movie was both weird & interesting. Throughout the whole movie I just kept saying "Huh? What in the world?" Just things like that.

I'm trying to watch more independent movies without the predictable Hollywood ending.
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Interesting, but stereotypes and poorly rendered characters.
objviewer13 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
So, and big spoiler follows, for those who don't get it, the last scene with the adult brother and sister reveals that the Nebraskan brother entrapped his nephew in situations where he could be accused of sexual misconduct with his 9 year old cousin. Why? Evidently the scary, mostly deadpan brother uses his daughter to get revenge on his sister for what happened in their childhood. The gullibility and vapidness of the characters as this unfolds is rather unbelievable. The sister's husband is so unformed as a character as to almost not be there. And stereotypes abound - fancy, elitist smug Californians versus gun-toting, wife-hushing, prejudiced rural Nebraskans.

Also, thought one scene totally inappropriate to have a child actress in. That's why I gave it a 1.
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If you like really good 'make you think' movies
cekadah4 August 2016
Then this is a must see film for you! There is a surface story and numerous subsurface stories. By that statement I mean there is the conscience story and the subconscious stories. This film has so many character implications it is difficult to write about.

This simple family reunion is all about a young boy coming of age, a revengeful uncle who is conniving and mentally abusive to his family and his sister, the young boys mother (sister to his uncle) is tormented by an incident in her past. All this comes to a head and the young boy suffers through no fault of his own.

It all sounds confusing but Director/writer: Matt Sobel brings it all together so concisely and expertly you the viewer will be hypnotized by what you are seeing and what you know and suspect is happening beneath the obvious. Each actor is excellent in their role and at one point it will almost feel like a camera recording the real thing.

Ten stars start to finish!
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Small film, big topics
blumdeluxe21 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I was kind of surprised to see "Take me to the river" receiving such a low ranking by the community here. Though this is far away of being a Hollywood blockbuster, it uses the tools of lower budget movies well in my opinion and makes up for some lacking production value through its excellent storytelling.

The movie evolves around a family reunion, the question what happened to a small girl and what secret the family keeps. In doing so, it manages to depict side topics such as identity, conservatism and pressure in families. All those topics are taken seriously and are depicted in a suitable way.

The film is not always easy. There are scenes raising unpleasant questions and concerns and surely this is nothing to relax after work. But it shows quite well how a family in a certain environment can become a perfect host to injustice and cruelty. There might be other movies dealing with the same topic, there might even be better ones. But "Take me to the river" is in itself an excellent movie and I don't have much criticism.
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Too cryptic
silmarieni19 September 2016
Yes, most movies coming out of Hollywood are formulaic, unoriginal and always follow a very restricted set of structures and stories. Yes, movies that are out of the mold, more subtle and that appeal to the intelligent participation of the viewers are to be cherished.

Still, I found Take me to the river way too cryptic. There aren't enough clues to hazard one or two solid interpretations. The storytelling is too open, and one leaves frustrated.

I like open-ended, I don't like non-stories.

On the plus side, the acting is very good, and the atmosphere is as electrical as it is sexually charged, for those who like suspense and do not dislike being taken a little outside their comfort zone.

In my opinion, with a little reworked screenplay, it could have been a very good, perhaps an outstanding film.
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Stellar performance from Robin Weigert.
Sergeant_Tibbs17 October 2015
Before Hollywood gets a chance to remake Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt word-for-word, independent American cinema can enjoy Matt Sobel's deep south take on how false accusations tear people apart, and ultimately reveal psychosexual secrets. Trading a teacher for gay teenager Ryder, played by The Stanford Prison Experiment's Logan Miller, and a student for a younger female cousin Molly, played by Louie's Ursula Parker. It focuses its story across a pair of days instead of several months. Take Me To The River has an interesting angle as Californian Ryder has been suppressed by his parents to keep his secret in the closet for his conservative Nebraskan family – an otherwise easy answer to explain how he would not have abused Molly, but one with its own dangers as they ostensibly would not accept him.

Perhaps Sobel winds his film too tightly as this dilemma unravels before 15 minutes are up and we've had a chance to get under its skin. He demonstrates strong direction and I would've welcomed more patience. Such efficient economy in storytelling leads it to feeling quite contrived and stilted to reach the necessary dramatic assumptions. Although Robin Weigert's performance as Ryder's mother Cindy thrives under the weight of the situation, the bigoted uncle Keith, played by Josh Hamilton, the primary source of aggression here, suffers the most to meet Weigert's calibre. Nevertheless, it's still a compelling sequence to behold, and the film conjures that same boiling frustration of a false accusation that The Hunt achieved through much of its narrative that makes you want to wrestle the ignorant people.

It's a shame that the film struggles to establish a single confident tone but could've easily be improved by dipping onto one side. It unfortunately doesn't equate to complex contradictions, but instead indecision. Deeply unsettling or somewhat farcical, richly composed or raw and naturalistic – it drifts somewhere between those tones and results in a film much more lightweight than it could have been, and much less organic than it could have felt. This is especially to its detriment with a shorthand that could have come with more maturity. The supposed flamboyance of Ryder creeps through via his bright red shorts, but outside of the film's hints that doesn't necessarily mean he's gay unless they had prior suspicions, of which don't appear to be shown. Missed opportunities aside, it's a tense film that bubbles with dread right up to its disturbing revelation. It's got very interesting tools to diffuse and raise its tensions.

Deadwood's Robin Weigert shines as the frequent voice of reason, filled with nuance and anxiety as she tries to protect her son in both productive and unproductive ways. The West Wing's Richard Schiff, playing Ryder's Dad, doesn't get enough to do and essentially shrugs his way through his performance, but amicably. Miller doesn't quite have the convictions to stand out among his supporting cast and also appears on the fence about the realism and hyperrealism as Sobel does, but he sees his way through the film. It's Ursula Parker who continues to boast her talents she's shown on Louis C.K.'s show, giving an utterly effortless performance. She has a bright, bright future. While not as fully formed as it could be, Take Me To The River is a solid and promising debut that will certainly connect with a passionate niche.


Read more @ The Awards Circuit (http://www.awardscircuit.com/)
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Not fresh, innovative or interesting
gothix9915 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Ideologically divisive film featuring a fabulously artistic teen victimized by his redneck family during a reunion. There is nothing to "get" in this film, it's just pretentious and nonsensical. Although I will say that the actor who portrayed Ryder was excellent and should have a long career ahead of him, the dialogue and actions by the various characters were just laughable.
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Misunderstood, but also too contrived
introspect45114 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
*Review without spoilers* I don't usually write reviews, but I feel compelled to, given how disappointed I was with all the reviews posted so far. To be clear: the film is not confusing in the slightest. It would be a bit of a stretch to call this an intellectual's film. There is a plot twist, and there are a couple of clues along the way, but it's not littered with them. Viewers do have to pay attention and listen for expressions with double meanings at times, but it's *not* a Darren Aronofsky film.

The story is about a gay teen from California visiting his rural extended family with his parents. He is warned upfront to keep his sexual orientation in the closet due to local conservative values. However, the boy soon finds himself in a highly volatile situation resulting from unsupervised activity with his young niece. During the uproar, tensions between the boy's mother and the girl's father suggest that there's more to this story than meets the eye. The film follows the boy's perspective, allowing the viewers to share his confusion and fear until the truth finally comes out.

Let me state this clearly: This film is *not* about sexual abuse. It is a poorly selected story element, but not the central message. (More on this in the spoiler section.)

Overall, the film was poorly written in a few places. For example, the movie starts with the teen and his parents repeatedly calling their relatives "the Nebraska family" instead of simply showing a "Welcome to Nebraska" sign along the highway and talking about them as a typical family would. And although the boy is naïve at the start -- which I find understandable given his age -- both he and his parents fail to learn from their mistakes, stripping the film of believability. Also, anyone from the Midwest will quickly notice the lack of religious rhetoric, muted hostility when tension flare, and relatively tame microaggressions. However, the biggest problem with the film was that the plot was far too contrived to be believable.

Initially, I felt like the film threw homosexuality under the bus for its primary cause, but I now realize the significance. (Again, see the spoiler section.) I also found its use of society's hypersensitivity to child sexual abuse as poorly judged. While they aimed to elicit a powerful reaction from the audience, it backfired, causing too many people to shutter their minds and respond viscerally before discovering the film's core message.

All in all, I do recommend the film, and hence gave it an 8/10. I appreciated the daring it took to address the central message, which I agree is essential. Unfortunately, Westerners still carry too much baggage from their puritan days, leading to a severe problem with immaturity and close-mindedness regarding human sexuality. This film is a decent start at addressing some of these topics, though they could have been done a better job with a more plausible plot.

*Begin spoilers* As I said above, this film is *not* about sexual abuse, though it is used as a story element. So, for those who don't understand the movie, allow me to clear the air.

The film starts with a false assumption/accusation of sexual abuse. Obviously, the story involved sexual abuse, for the uncle must have taught his daughter about the sexual game the boy's mother had played with him as a little girl. But again, sexual abuse was a story element, not the story itself.

As others have noted, there appears to be a plausibility issue with the film's plot. Aside from the characters' gullibility, the convenient timing of the young girl's first period and how it fed into the uncle's plot seemed unbelievable. However, another way of interpreting this is that the unfortunate coincidence allowed the uncle to hatch a vengeful plot after cooling down from his initial reaction. It would explain the uncle's dramatic change in behavior around the teenager the following day and his daughter's sulky attitude after reemerging from her room. (This assumes the uncle abused his daughter by teaching her the sexual game and coercing her into assisting his plot.)

There is no ambiguity in this story. Early on, it's hinted that something happened between the boy's mother and his uncle in the past. During the uproar, the uncle pointedly tells the mother that he doesn't want her "playing doctor" with his daughter, a subtle double entendre for checking his daughter's wellbeing and sexual exploration. Based on her facial expression and emotional reaction, the mother clearly understood. Later, after the little girl rubs against the teen, the uncle explains that the boy's mother used to play the same masturbation game with him when they were young. He later got punished for it, even though he claimed that it was her game.

The story was about childhood masturbation, the trauma resulting from the overreaction of parents to this natural stage of development, and the lifelong consequences it can have on self-esteem and relationships. Although the behavior is not universal, it is widespread. In this case, a brother and sister explored their sexuality together at a very early age, long before they understood what they're doing. Tragically, their punishment and shame resulted in a rift between the siblings, leading to the brother's plot to get revenge for his humiliation.

As the boy explains to his mother at the end, the message is that she did nothing wrong as a kid. Masturbation and sexual exploration are normal. The message was particularly poignant coming from a gay teen -- a minority that only recently has been allowed to embrace what was once taboo.

The theme comes out in the opening scene, where the mother insists that the boy remained closeted during the visit. Yet, while she sweeps taboo sexual practices under the rug, her son represents the sexual openness our society needs, not just for LGBTQ but for the full range of human sexuality.
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Don't get it
djbvk2117 May 2018
Nothing made sense to me. Maybe it's too deep for me but I doubt it.
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fmwongmd5 October 2019
The river alluded to in the title is physically and metaphorically muddied.
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Weird and uncomfortable
alexgarcia-1130316 October 2019
This movie is so poorly made, its like they used an iphone camera. It lacks description and clarification. Has you wondering the entire time. Its not even interesting it's just out right nasty. The movie is really dry, its not exciting at all and it has a very poor ending.
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Contrived STORYLINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
odsnfilms15 September 2018
The Storyline and Character developement were the most contrived and creepy I've seen in netflix!
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good threatening atmosphere
SnoopyStyle16 March 2018
Cindy (Robin Weigert) is returning home to a family gathering with her Californian husband Don (Richard Schiff) and gay son Ryder (Logan Miller). Her rural Nebraskan relatives don't know about her son's homosexuality. Ryder agrees to follow his young cousin Molly (Ursula Parker) into the barn. After something happens, she runs out screaming and bleeding from her first period. Her angry father Keith (Josh Hamilton) imposes a threatening atmosphere.

This is Matt Sobel's first theatrical release. There is an uncomfortable atmosphere throughout. He threatens to take the movie to the next level but it never gets there. At first, I thought that Ryder should tell them about his homosexuality which leaves them at ease about anything happening in the barn. Then I thought it's possible that the revelation would only exacerbate Keith's mistrust and anger. It may help to lay out that rural conservatism more explicitly in the beginning. A lot of things are left unsaid like the relationship between Cindy and Keith. It could have gone further. Oveall, there is a great atmosphere and solid acting. There is good tension but in the end, Sobel does not ignite it to the fullest.
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Waste of time
pstephenson-7509717 January 2019
This movie wasted 1 hr and 29 min of my life! Many things happen to two children that never should have happened...with the knowledge of the parents of each child! Don't waste your time. You think the movie will get somewhat better as it goes on, but it only gets WORSE! Don't waste your time! It will just make you made at yourself for doing so!
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Leaves me scratching my head, puzzled!!
donna_lee23 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
1- 9 year old menstruating, ok absolutely possible but leaves the viewer sort of positive that Ryder must have done something to Molly, but we know straight away that Ryder is gay. 2- Why would any parents of a little girl let her go off with a teenage boy? 3- Even if it was confirmed that nothing had happened in the barn, and Molly did start her period, why would her father place them in a bedroom and close the door? 4- Why let Molly go off with Ryder again? We're talking about a 9 year old girl and 17 year old boy, not two children close in age! They go swimming and Molly climbs on Ryder's shoulders and looks like she's making herself orgasm, which seems to be the same thing that happened in the barn. 5- Knowing the ending, the father seems to be offering his daughter up to Ryder knowing what happened in the past! Why would he do this, why isn't Molly's mother speaking up?! 6- Kissing cousins is not new, it's been going on since the beginning of time. I think that two children experimenting is also something that's been going on since the beginning of time. I think that it just happens though, we don't place two children with drastic age differences in a situation that could have a terrible outcome! 7-Ryder didn't know how to play the game? Suggests to me that Molly's father has been playing the game with Molly and his other daughters!!

I find this movie is just a little too twisted. I am a 6 times victim of sexual abuses that all happened before age 12 with a rape at age 3 by a cousin. This movie was disturbing for me on many levels!
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Powerful but distressing...
annieoftheorchids31 August 2018
It makes you think but nothing is so cryptic that most people can't figure out what's going on. Also very well acted.
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currey-231-89820126 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The film kept me in high tension throughout. I just couldn't figure it out. why did she scream, this was never explained and yet the whole movie was projected from this incident. The evil was palpable but had no explanation. It was a movie that deceived and never came clean. I felt exploited by a sick mind. Impossible to decide on a rating.
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Get Out!!!
libbyhatch21-19 September 2018
On the edge of my seat throughout. It really makes poignant commentary about family, cruelty & ignorance. Did not know where this was going to go.
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