Retake (NR)

Drama 98 min. January 6, 2017
By Tatiana Craine
Retake takes the old road-trip formula in some unexpected directions, sometimes to its detriment, as it reminds us that the paths of love and loss are bumpy and twisted as hell.

Jonathan (Tuc Watkins), a lonely, middle-aged man, wants someone to fill a void in his life — someone who's "lost, rough around the edges and temperamental." He finds a willing partner while cruising through San Francisco, initiating a role-playing transaction with 20-something "Brandon" (Devon Graye). After a night together, Jonathan proposes a deal: more than double the money for a road trip to the Grand Canyon.

Director Nick Corporon prevents this (mostly) two-hander from veering into icky, amateurish territory. He lingers on sunsets and roadside attractions that might make you wish you were there — but the couple's relationship is built on Jonathan's disturbing drive to relive old glories. Though he's forbidden from asking Jonathan personal questions, Brandon probes about his "character" during pit stops of tense meals and painstakingly shot Polaroids. Later, sneakily, he rifles through Jonathan's things, finding clues about why they're both really there.

Graye shines as a hustler up for any physical and emotional labor (and there's plenty); he's especially compelling when flitting between pawn and accomplice in Jonathan's game. Watkins comes on strong and slowly becomes more personable, but his character's slavish reliance on recreating the past feels like whipping around a racetrack and seeing the same things over and over.
Nick Corporon Tuc Watkins, Devon Graye, Derek Phillips, Kit Williamson Nick Corporon Sean Mandell, Collin Brazie, Nick Corporon Breaking Glass Pictures

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