Norbert Leo Butz and Jamie Effros as Ted and Martin in Give or Take. (Photo credit: Paul Riccio)
This film is publicized by Bunker 15 Films (www.bunker15films.com) . Bunker 15 helps connect indie films to entertainment journalists and critics in order to provide said films with press, something that can be hard to receive when you are a small film crew.
Directed by: Paul Riccio
Written by: Paul Riccio and Jamie Effros
Starring: Norbert Leo Butz, Jamie Effros, Louis Cancelmi, Joanne Tucker, Cheri Oteri
Synopsis (Bunker 15): When a disillusioned New Yorker’s father dies, he goes home to Cape Cod and prepares the house for sale while sharing it with his father’s temperamental live-in boyfriend. Grieving, they circle each other, butt heads, and negotiate how to remember the different man they both loved, and the significance of what he left behind.
Give or Take is a comedy-drama about getting trapped in our own stories about ourselves, trying to find real connection in a hyper-connected, wired world. Give or Take is about love, loss, empathy and acceptance and what it truly means to be home.
Accolades and official film festival selection:
Woods Hole Film Festival — Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Monmouth Film Festival — Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature
Woods Hole Film Festival
All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF)
Monmouth Film Festival
OUTshine Film Festival
Out on Film Atlanta
Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival
Reel Pride (Winnipeg, Canada)
Give or Take is one of those films that easily could have been a mainstream release with how in-depth and slyly hilarious the film is. As stated above, the film follows Martin (Effros), who tries to reconcile his memories of his father with his father’s common-law husband Ted (Butz). Throughout the film, Martin and Ted both repel and attract each other as both are working through the multilayered emotion of grief.
What I liked most about the film was Martin’s levels of frustration with his father’s death. As a child, Martin experienced a very different person than the man who became Ted’s partner. After hearing everyone’s happy memories of his father with Ted, Martin becomes more and more irritated by the fact that he doesn’t have any of these happy memories growing up.
The portrayals of grief are both realistic and, perhaps in a macabre way, charming. Charming in the sense that the characters dive into feelings similar to what we all experience when going through a loss. There are no villains in this movie despite Martin admitting he can be a “prick” sometimes. Everyone’s truth of Martin’s father is both correct and incomplete, which makes the relationships he left behind feel messy and unresolved. But isn’t that the way most people’s experiences with loved ones feels like at some point?
The film also makes great use of its actors, with a particular note of honor going to Cheri Oteri, who plays a batty real estate agent to pitch perfection. Butz and Effros are splendid as Ted and Martin, who are trying to figure out how to be family after the person that tied them together is now gone. Joanne Tucker is also great as Emma, the town bartender who could have been Martin’s girl at one point, but is now in a relationship of her own with hippie pool cleaner Terrence, played by Louis Cancelmi.
Overall, Give or Take will leave you feeling warm and contemplative about family, despite the film being set around a funeral. If you come away from the film not left hoping for the best regarding Ted and Martin as they navigate life on new terms, then maybe you missed the point of the film.