Being a gay teen trapped on a countryside farm amongst homophobes who suspect you a son molester is a terrifying situation.
You are watching: Take me to the river chicken fighting
Take Me come the River, written and directed by Matt Sobel. At kendal Square Cinema, Cambridge, MA and also The Luna Theater, Lowell, MA
By Peg Aloi
On the surface, this film from first time writer-director Matt Sobel feels choose a coming-of-age story about a young man grappling through his gay sexuality. Teenager Ryder (Logan Miller) is in a automobile with his parental Cindy (Robin Weigert) and Don (Richard Schiff), en route from California come Nebraska because that a family gathering. That asks his mommy if she has actually told the “Nebraska family” if the is gay. Both Cindy and also Don gently suggest he keep this under his hat and also “not make it all about you.” Ryder retorts by asking if his father must deny his own Jewish heritage. Coming in the opened scene, the conversation feels hefty handed and also needlessly expository; isn’t over there some method we can uncover out Ryder is happy without resorting to trite talk points? but then, consider: a child brave sufficient to come the end to his parental is most likely in a state of mind whereby he desires to talk about it constantly. They arrive at the Nebraska farm, a bucolic landscape of corn and alfalfa fields, and also a gathering of about forty people sits about outdoor tables piled high with barbecue and also corn top top the cob.
The California threesome is greeted with indulgent affection. Ryder is handsome, polite, and also deferential, yet responds with barely-concealed disdain as soon as his male cousins poke fun at his bright red shorts and also his ’80s sunglasses. The woman cousins, every younger than ten, have actually crushes ~ above Ryder and want his attention constantly. Every little thing seems fine till nine year old Molly (Louie’s Ursula Parker) asks Ryder to take her to watch bird swarms in the barn. Her father, Cindy’s brothers Keith (Josh Hamilton), speak her no to climb on the hay bales. While there she asks Ryder if that true that his father is no his “real” father; she’s cagey once Ryder presses she for more information. Molly is precocious and also somewhat flirtatious but, once she it s okay Ryder to put her increase on his shoulders so she have the right to climb higher, she falls, and also then runs shrieking back to the house with a bloodstain on her dress.
A somewhat predictable (and yet likewise weirdly surreal) case follows in which Ryder is suspected of molesting Molly. Cindy asks to study her and also Keith blows up when she says Molly may have started menstruating. The menfolk form a circle and gaze threateningly at Ryder; their silence is in reality terrifying. Keith knocks him come the ground and also demands he continue to be away from the house. Ryder is prepared to come out to the family, reasoning that it will somehow “prove” the is incapable of molesting Molly; his parents think this is a bad Idea. Ryder runs off and also spends the night in a vacant farmhouse on his grandmother’s property, wherein his mommy joins him. We begin to understand there is some ugly history in this family and that that been hidden for part time.
The following morning, Don and Cindy’s auto has ugly graffiti scrawled top top it. Cindy asks Ryder to aid her to wash it off and decides come say nothing. Molly’s younger sister mirrors up with two horses and an invite for Ryder come come for dinner, supplying her father’s apology. It sound odd and dodgy yet Ryder goes anyway. Keith and also wife Ruth (Azura Skye) are civil with Ryder, however both questioning him unusual questions, hinting at his “artistic” tasks in California. That feels like a set-up. Hamilton is great in this segment, all sincere half-smiles and good-humored gaslighting, when Skye provides off a nervous air, possibly due to the fact that her character resides with a husband that is a sociopath. Ryder responds to your odd questions with halting words and also a polite “WTF” expression, eyebrows cocked and mouth askew. I found this annoying, yet Miller kinda flourished on me — he displayed the typically cocky yet clueless teen.
Ryder and Molly spend an ext time alone, after ~ Keith whispers in Molly’s ear. Lock wade right into the river and also she asks him to “play chicken” as they go in the barn therefore she might reach the bird nests. (A parallel step in Mustang pertained to mind, where the young sister were accused the “pleasuring themselves” while sitting on the boys’ shoulders.) The narrative becomes a bit weird and creepy after ~ that, and the long-hushed secret is hinted at, if never fully explained.
I can’t say I uncovered the screenplay terribly artful (it do the efforts too hard to develop moments the dramatic tension). But the actors is an extremely solid and there is a ton to the film’s look and also feel that is unstable in a very satisfying way. Even though the dialogue periodically feels calculated, there is one undeniably compelling air of menace and also secrecy generated, make it tough to guess: v what can happen next. Gift a gay teen trapped ~ above a rural farm among homophobes that suspect she a boy molester is a terrifying situation. If this is a an allegory exploring what America really is versus what we’d like to think the is, the a relatively apt and also disturbing one.
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Peg Aloi is a previous film doubter for The Boston Phoenix. She has taught film researches for a number of years at Emerson College and is currently teaching media research studies at SUNY brand-new Paltz. She reviews have showed up in Art brand-new England and Cinefantastique Online, and also she to write a media blog for Patheos.com called The Witching Hour.