Nick Corporon delivers a promising feature film debut in Retake, an inspired road trip drama with enough quirks and twists to keep audiences enthralled until the credit roll.
Retake opens with what is arguably one of the most enticing sequences of shots. A mysterious man with a briefcase appears to be traveling and promptly picks up a male prostitute. With little explanation, he makes the streetwalker don a black wig to play out some unexplained fantasy. However, the transaction goes awry when the experience becomes a little too weird for the both of them. Unfazed, the middle-aged man heads back to the streets the following night and discovers another young man to play his twisted game. Despite warnings, the young man decides to take the risk, despite the cold, unnerving feeling of danger.
What appears to be a creepy thriller, however, gradually evolves into a psychological drama, which is quite a feat by writer/director Corporan. Just as the audience is expecting this middle-aged man to pull out a knife and start gutting prostitutes throughout the city, Corporan starts to reveal a sentimental, albeit odd, character. The middle-aged man is Jonathan (played by Tuc Watkins), and it is quickly evident that he is seeking to recreate a past experience with his role-play games. This newest adventure, a bright young man named Adam (Devon Graye) curiously acquiesces to Jonathan’s requests, including referring to him by a different name throughout their tryst.
Jonathan’s ultimate objective is quickly made known, as he offers to pay Adam a premium rate to join him on a road trip through Colorado to reach the Grand Canyon. Adam, who seems to be on his own quest for self-help and discovery, is happy to join him. The two men begin a journey that takes a few strange and somewhat creepy turns. Jonathan’s meandering path to the mountains seems to require making some very specific stops, including motels and tourist spots. Jonathan and Adam stumble across other characters in their travels as well. Many seem to be on their own adventure of sorts, however, none so creepy as Jonathan and Adam’s past recreation role-play.
At a pivotal moment, however, role-play starts to become reality and Jonathan and Adam are both forced to confront their own psychological and emotional hurdles. It is quite apparent this trip was meant to be therapeutic for the each of these men, though when each reveals his respective wounds the safe structure of a role-play begins to crumble. Not surprisingly, the Grand Canyon offers the ultimate symbol of the vastness and hollowness these men begin to feel.
All in all, Corporon has gracefully transitioned from short films into feature work with this project. Although audiences may be somewhat disappointed in the ending of Retake, the future bodes well for this talented filmmaker.