Frameline Film Festival review
Director: Micaela Rueda
With a runtime of less 70 minutes and a sparing approach to dialogue, Micaela Rueda’s Take Me for a Ride is a coming-of-age film crafted with an unusual sense of economy and restraint. The recurring characters that populate Rueda’s story are kept to a minimum, the film’s aesthetics are distinct but modest, there is little to nothing in the way of narrative tangents, and the characters generally refrain from speaking a word that cannot more efficiently be expressed through a moment of tense silence or a quietly mesmerising image.
In light of the passionate, impulsive territory of young romance that the drama navigates, Take Me for a Ride can at times feel too soft and muted for its own good. Nonetheless, in between these weaker spots, Rueda offers a touching, keenly measured, if rather familiar, tale about a still-growing teen learning to be vulnerable, honest, comfortable, and brave.
The film’s ethereal opening minutes – a montage of sensations, from a ray of light shining through some trees and a dress blowing in the wind, to some bare feet on a ground covered by dead leaves – quickly establishes the young Sara’s passionate and introverted nature and prefigures the sensuous portrayal of her eventual relationship with classmate Andrea. As it turns out, this intriguing introduction is merely one of Sara’s dreams, and the reality of her life at school – where she is something of a misfit – and her life at home – where she remains uncommunicative with her parents – is one of stiff emotional repression.
When she starts hanging out with new girl Andrea, the film refrains from spelling out both the extent of the prejudice of Sara’s peers and parents, and the backlash the couple risk receiving if their relationship is ever found out about. The slight ambiguity pays off. Regardless of whether Sara’s fears are justified or not, we empathise with them well enough to share in her rush of excitement and warmth when the two girls find their corner of the world in a cramped side room in a club where other LGBT people are dancing and making out. But we also understand Andrea’s frustration at Sara’s ongoing insecurity.
The film finds its emotional peak in its sensitively composed closing minutes, in which Sara finally summons the courage to do what needs to be done so that her relationship cab move beyond its stifled current state. It is a resonant finale with all the mixed feelings, messy consequences and loose ends that come with any painful but necessary shift in a life’s path.
While the rest of Take Me for a Ride may not match the high note it goes out on, the journey rarely rings false, and the film offers enough sincere and affecting observations on human relations to keep you interested throughout its very concise runtime. In essence, this is a story that’s been told many times before, but anyone looking to hear it told all over again may discover a few compelling new shades of grey in Micaela Rueda’s delivery.
Recommended Viewing on FilmDoo:
(UK & Ireland only)