Serge The Movie Guy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Take Me Out.
Directed by Fritz Frauendorf.
“Everything’s going to work out. Except it won’t.”
I had the great privilege of first seeing the rough cut back in October (or maybe it was November). The final cut is done and being submitted to Film Festivals at this moment. Still, the director and writer of the film, also a friend of mine, allowed me to see the film in its final format.
Since this is an early review, I’ll have to be as vague as possible, especially with the plot. So, for this I’ll focus on the feelings and connections I made while watching. Maybe mention some technical aspects.
First Comment is for you Fritz: I watched this alone at midnight in my room projected onto my television. As I’m typing this review I’m simultaneously going back and re-watching it to make sure I didn’t miss anything. While I didn’t catch every reference, I saw a few moments (shots, dialogue, or music) that reminded me of other films I’ve seen. But I like this never feels like it’s ripping off anything that’s already been done.
I think every other film made by college students has something to do with depression and/or suicide as the main topic. A lot of them feel the same, but very few stand out. I was at the College Movie Festival to promote the film I worked on and what won both the Audience Choice and Judge’s Choice was a film called On the Brink. The theme was friendship but told through a suicide. That’s just an example of taking a cliché idea then spinning it told through a new perspective. This is the same thing that I believe you accomplished here. A difference between your film and others is that yours’s actually takes it’s time to tell a story through looks and scenes of character’s actions. And when there is dialogue, it feels important and just about every word out of our main character’s mouth, and a few others, seems important to what’s happening to them. Even the narration feels crucial. I tried to imagination what it would have been like if you removed the narration and honestly, I think you leaving it in was a great call on your part. It’s one of the few instances where it actually improves a scene in a film.
Okay, I guess the rest of this is for anyone who reads this.
This will be hard to talk about without spoilers or giving anything away, but I’ll do my best.
To a certain degree I really relate to this character. Obviously, this is a more personal film for you and elements from your life, and I certainly don’t want to take that away from you.
But…I will give a recent example from my life and how it relates to the film. I did not plan on talking about it, but I think it’s important to explain the importance of this film.
The day after Easter, ironically 2 days after the College Movie Festival and the big week Avengers: Endgame came out, was the start of my final week for this college semester for me. That Monday I came home from taking my first test and my mom told me to sit down so she could talk. My youngest brother was on the other couch on his phone. Earlier that day my dad and youngest brother went turkey hunting. When they were out there, someone shot them. This was not an accident, it was deliberate. THEY ARE OKAY. THEY’RE WALKING AROUND LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED. But was all over the local news including the 911 call from my Dad. And at least one 1 news station released my dad’s name even when he asked them not to. The man was arrested and we’re still doing this whole court thing, which will go on for a while.
Anyway, after that incident, I felt completely drained. For the next month, I felt like nothing mattered. Not films, film reviews, writing, people, and life. That very week, in-between exams, I saw an early cut of a comedy film and then Avengers: Endgame that opening day. But I still couldn’t get out of this damn slump. I also got into a minor car accident almost 2 weeks later but ended up hurting my back pretty badly. So, bedrest didn’t help either. I just felt into this weird stage of sadness and anxiety that I haven’t really talked to anyone about. My close friends don’t even know any of this happened. Among other things I didn’t mention, so far this year has been nothing but bad luck for my family.
“I still…don’t know what’s worse: How familiar this all feels…or the fact that it all still fells…like nothing.”
So, the diner scene with Bruce and his friend got to me. Bruce talking about seeing nothing, how everyone is the same, and not knowing real loneliness, that used to be me until the incident happened. I was so selfish taking granted for life, but when life keeps punching me, you can’t punch back. You move forward, but even now a days I feel like my smiles are just coverups. Maybe that’s how they’ve been for a while.
Also, the scene where he’s in his apartment and has his breakdown. The context prior to that really got to me as I’ve felt like doing that so many times recently (of course I haven’t because I own too much expensive shit that’s not worth buying again).
The final 5 minutes is the icing on the cake. That final shot is like the cherry on top. I’d make an argument that those 5 minutes alone could be a short film by itself.
But I digress.
The acting was excellent. This is so far the best casting you’ve done. Obviously, the film is focused around the character Bruce, but everyone else was very believable. That being said, Brian Anthony Collins is the one that has to carry this film. Damn, I was impressed, he had to give so much of himself, especially the scenes where it’s just him alone dealing with his self-hatred.
It looks incredible. The use of color really fits this film’s tone. The lighting as well, damn. I really hope people notice that because you’ll do a hell of a thing to get great lighting.
I also took notice in the things in the background of your scenes. Granted, they help set the environment but a few times I couldn’t help but feel some things were intentionally placed. It gave the story more depth to me.
So, having seen this twice, I have to say I didn’t have any problems with the overall film. It had a great story, it felt fleshed out, I love the editing, performances are overall good, and the sound design is also worth noting. Props to whoever did the sound mixing. Maybe one or two shots in the whole film felt a tad bit too shaky. But when that’s the only thing I could come up with, I’d say you got a winner on your hands.
I accept the fact that maybe I’m biased since were friends Fritz, but I feel like I’ve given you honest opinions towards your work.
I think what you’ve accomplished is everything you’ve set out to do from the beginning. I’ve been keeping up with your journey towards success, I think you’ve got something here.
Hopefully, people will see what I see. If people are actually willing to sit down, watch the story unfold, and really listen to the words of your characters.
I’m very proud of what you accomplished (hopefully that’s not too pretentious to say). I got to me on an incredibly personal level, especially in recent events. Even if it didn’t, it’s none the less an incredibly well-made film from a passionate filmmaker with something important to say.
Sorry for rambling.
“Note to Self. Three words: TAKE ME OUT.”