World Premiere Take Care drew me in because it seemed like counter programming to most of the rest of SXSW. The film stars Lelie Bibb as unfortunate car accident victim Franny who is now confined to her house and dependent on all her friends to help get to her doctor’s appoutments, make a sandwhich and go to the bathroom. Franny learns very quickly that the typical ‘let me know if you need anything’ invitation is just something nice you say on your way out the door. Not surprisingly, the idea came to writer/director Liz Tuccillo while helping her friend who had just had rotator cuff surgery.

“My agent kept harassing me to come up with an idea for a film that would be small enough that I could possibly produce in a very micro way, and direct myself, “Tuccillo says, “it was pretty irritating, because that’s not that easy to just ‘come up with an idea for a small film.’”

Yes, the set-up to Take Care is a bit slight and actually feels more like the plot of an episode of Friends than a feature. However, the film really picks up once Franny lands upon her solution: her ex-boyfriend seriously owes her. After she took care of him for 2 years while he was going through colon cancer, the ex (Devon, played by The Newsroom’s Thomas Sadoski) dumped her, got a new girlfriend and sold some software thingamajig six million dollars. Franny basically guilts him to take care of her and, since this is a romantic comedy, hatred turns to friendship turns to long uncomfortable moments of sexual tension. Any hesitation I had with the film quickly slipped away as Franny and Devon spar and though the direction the film heads is hardly surprising, I couldn’t help but root for them to get together.

However, the best moments of the film are delivered by Betty Gilpin who plays Devon’s new girlfriend Jodi. Her insecurities with Devon’s new relationship with his ex are consistently hilarious and nuanced. It may be an over-the-top chracter but she’s completely real under the circumstances. At one point she even says “it’s hard to work on my jealousy issues when you are cheating on me.”

Take Care is a great example of what a smart writer can do in a confined space. It may feel a bit claustrophobic, but that only ends up playing into Franny’s isolation and irritation. Tuccillo says the cast developed a very intense relationship with that apartment. “It was my friend’s apartment in Harlem and she gave it to us to use while she and her wife were out of town,” Tuccillo remembers, “which, as anyone in production knows, is a very very very generous, slightly insane thing to do. Also, she’s a new friend, not like a lifelong friend, which made it even more intense.” The film was shot in 19 days, and though she is a first time feature director, Tuccillo wrote for “Smash” and “Sex and the City,” had a short film at Sundance and wrote the best-selling self-help book “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Take Care is a fun film, that satisfies the rom-com urge and kepts its energy up to the end. Leslie Bibb is endearing, and the world is silly, but its consistent. Take Care is due to be released August 2014 but it is nice to see it in the SXSW lineup against Bigfoot movies and documentaries about Internet legends.



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