Keyser Soze’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve often said my favorite films are auteur. Ones where a filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a film are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the film.
Take Me Out is a clear example of one such film. Fritz Frauendorf is the director, writer, producer, editor, and author of this potent, visceral film about a young man named Bruce who suffers from long-term depression.
From my perspective, the thing about depression most people-and therefore most films- tend to get wrong is there’s always an assumption that somehow the depression one faces is logical, makes sense, or is deserved. In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Depression is totally illogical. It often doesn’t make any sense, especially when you’re experiencing it. It can come from seemingly nowhere and it can come in different ways, shapes, and forms. It doesn’t have to be caused by trauma, and where trauma does occur, oftentimes it’s occurring to someone who is already experiencing depression- which in turn only adds to the agony and dejection. And very rarely is it caused by something you did, although most of the times those who are depressed experience intense feelings of guilt or self-hate. Sometimes it’s rage and hate, other times it’s loneliness and despair. The emotions differ, but the common thread is immense feelings of negativity. This is a film that demonstrates all of that and more, and does so extremely well.
Bruce is an excellent illustration of this concept. He has suffered from long-term depression and also experiences a serious trauma in his life. This is just one example of the inexplicable nature of depression. Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse, they do, exponentially so. Throughout the film, we see Bruce as he fights his depression as it continues to engulf him in pain and hopelessness.
In the opening scene, we see Bruce with his friends, and he seems sort of happy at first glance; however, if you look closer, particularly at that last shot of his face, you can see there’s an emptiness setting in. An unexplainable void. You can see that Bruce knows given what’s he’s doing and who he’s with that he should be happy, and yet, there’s still that emptiness. The absence of joy.
The majority of the film takes place after the events which cause Bruce’s depression to get worse. Where we see more of the self-destructive by-product of depression. This is an all too real reality for those who suffer with depression. As it’s brilliantly depicted in the film, one can bottle up shame, guilt, and self-hate which if provoked in the wrong way can ultimately lead to self-harm.
Depression is similar to other diseases, in that some will lose the fight. Unfortunately, unlike other diseases, many in our society see losing a battle with depression as the person giving up. In actuality, depression can be as impossible to overcome as any ailment.
There’s a beautiful scene in the film at an open-mic night at a bar. Bruce opens himself up to the crowd and plays a song that sounds fantastic to him in his mind, but is not as well-received by the audience. I saw this as a great representation of what many with depression and anxiety feel like on a daily basis. People who suffer from depression will attempt to open themselves up to others, to be emotionally vulnerable, and sometimes there’s even a brief feeling of goodness, only to ultimately feel rejected in return, whether that’s what was communicated back or not. It’s a feeling of perpetual loneliness that can come and go, and often doesn’t make sense given our surroundings, but the feeling persists, nonetheless.
Visually, Take Me Out is a real treat. I was very impressed with the lighting. It follows the mood of the scenes perfectly, and the shadows and deep blacks are used to demonstrate Bruce’s loneliness and isolation really well. This along with the beautiful cinematography gave the film a hypnotic, transcendent feeling. Additionally, I thought the editing was phenomenal. All of these elements combined helped encapsulate the tense mood throughout. Bruce is portrayed superbly by Brian Anthony Collins. This was not an easy role to play, but he really brings the raw emotion necessary.
Both visually and tonally, I could certainly feel the influence of two of my favorite films shining through: Steve McQueen’s Shame and Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st. I absolutely loved seeing Shame playing on the TV in Bruce’s room.
This is a film that- along with those two I just mentioned- is among the best visual presentations of depression one can find. It hits at the core of why depression is so heartbreaking and earth shattering. It dissects the human condition that too many face which can come from this ailment and the difficulties of daily life that can result.
Take Me Out is a truly essential cinematic experience. One which I recommend to anyone looking to take a deeper, accurate look at one of the most prevalent impairments of our time, or to anyone interested in witnessing the rise of one of the most exciting, young filmmakers, Fritz Frauendorf.