Death is the ultimate dramatic device, but great art doesn't emerge from strong devices alone. In Take, the directorial debut of Charles Oliver, the impact of a single, startling tragic death immediately conveys the sense of watching a gravely serious movie, which is definitely the case. However, having immediately provided a tone, Oliver fails to follow up with a story powerful enough to justify it. That's not to say that the experience Ana (Minnie Driver) goes through after her son dies in a freak accident before the start of the film isn't relentlessly bleak, but there's hardly anything distinctive about the circumstances to make viewers care any more than they would if they were glancing at it in the morning headlines.
Still, Olilver has made a quietly observant work solely driven by the specific needs of two downtrodden protagonists with completely believable motives. In flashback, we learn that Ana struggled with her son's elementary school, which wants to put him in a special needs program. Meanwhile, she has a hard time communicating with her husband and finding decent work to get by. Elsewhere, reckless gambling addict Saul (Jeremy Renner) destroys his life in a whirlwind of debt. His misfortune, as it's shown in early scenes at a prison where Saul awaits execution, will lead him to accidentally murder Ana's innocent child, Jesse (Bobby Coleman).