Truth is the first casualty in Matt Sobel’s Take Me to the River, a family drama, about a gay California teenager and his parents at a family reunion in Nebraska. At the outset the parents ask their son not to disclose his sexual orientation. He agrees but rebels, wearing a flashy American Apparel outfit: deep V-neck with red short shorts. He gets the attention of his nine year-old cousin, Molly, who thinks he’s cool because he’s from California. They go off to play in a barn. Then something happens and Molly runs away, screaming, blood running down her dress. This is the setup for the odd Take Me to the River, in which nothing is exactly what it seems. Creepy and intimidating, Josh Hamilton shines as the teenager’s uncle; Logan Miller is convincing as the teenager; Ursula Parker is unpredictable and menacing as Molly. Through off-kilter situations, Sobel maintains an air of mystery that keeps the movie suspenseful. And, preferring subtlety to sensationalism, he obfuscates the outrageous secrets that piece together the puzzle. There are lovely pastoral shots, especially of a field of sunflowers (Thomas Scott Stanton DPed). There is no score, only one song and it’s not by Talking Heads.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White