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Take 3 [Alex Igbanoi, UK, 2020]

Suicide is a heavy subject. One common critique of many short films is that they try to squeeze too much emotional heft into too small a space. Take 3, however, is an example of when this is done well. Thanks to an effective build up to the issue and some excellent acting, this film triumphs where others fail.

Michael (played by Jonathan Jules) returns home late from his secret acting classes to have what seems like one of many arguments with his grief stricken adoptive mother (Tsitsi Gombera). As he writes a monologue about the loss of his brother, Michael is torn between loyalty to his mother and his dream to become an actor.

Director, writer and producer Alexander Igbanoi lays the foundations for this risky subject well. The film does not dive straight into the trauma of a brother and a son taking his own life, but longer focuses on family photos and an uncomfortable atmosphere gradually lead up to bigger and bigger confrontations of grief.

Jonathan Jules as Michael in 'Take 3' (2020)

When protagonist Michael eventually confronts David, his deceased brother, again Igbanoi’s carefully measured script does well to begin with bittersweet shared memories and slowly arrive at the difficult emotions. The success of this scene, and indeed the short in general, is also due to some fantastic acting from Jules, whose calm, almost enigmatic screen presence is hugely convincing. Gombera’s precise yet natural portrayal of his strict mother is also a big contributor to the slickness of Igbanoi’s production.

The climax of the film flicks between the stage and Michael’s cleaning job, where his mother has forced him to help her. This means that we are never quite sure whether he has actually escaped to perform his final monologue. But it actually doesn’t matter. What really comes across in this scene is the drama’s ability to help both the creators and the audience to deal with real issues, whether this is Michael’s cathartic onstage outburst or his mother’s quiet witnessing of his grief.

Straying into territory where less experienced filmmakers daren’t venture, all those involved in Take 3 are clearly very good at what they do. While it won’t be screening at this year’s short film festival, we can surely expect good things from Alexander Igbanoi in the future.


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