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Movie Review: TAKE

TAKE is a full-length feature film being released July18 in New York and rolled out into other US cities and London through September. It stars Minnie Driver (Ana) and Jeremy Renner (Saul) as two people whose lives cross and are bound together during a bungled robbery by Saul in which Ana's son is killed.

Take PosterThe action moves quickly and fluidly between two days: the day of the crime and the day of Saul's execution many years later. As a result, the human side of crime is well presented. We begin to piece together what took place on the day of the crime as well as how it has marked both Ana and Saul since.

The climax of the movie comes in an unplanned meeting between Ana and Saul just before his execution. Although the circumstances of the meeting are far from reflecting best restorative practice, the effect on the characters and the viewers is powerful, thanks to the compelling script and remarkable performances by Driver and Renner.

TAKE is the first movie for writer/director Charles Oliver. He wrote the script prior to learning about restorative justice, and was stunned with the congruence between the story and what actually happens to people during restorative encounters. The film concludes with a few paragraphs about restorative justice.

Both the movie and its website ( direct people to two websites dealing with restorative justice ( and with forgiveness ( These sites were developed recently by several organizations seeking to take advantage of the powerful story line to draw attention to those two subjects. (Disclaimer: Prison Fellowship USA and Prison Fellowship International -- which sponsors Restorative Justice Online -- are two of those organizations.)

The movie tells a compelling story, one that carries many themes similar to those addressed by restorative justice. It is neither a polemic nor a training film. Rather it conveys the tremendous cost to victims, offenders and communities of crime, and the power of encounters as a way of finding a measure of healing and restoration.

The release schedule for the movie is at The movie is rated R for some violent content with intense emotional impact.

Daniel W. Van Ness

July 2008

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