Take Out's Microbudget Realism
You'll hopefully think twice before giving the Chinese-food deliveryman a lousy tip after experiencing a nerve-racking day in the life of Ming Ding (wonderfully understated first-timer Charles Jang), an illegal immigrant in Manhattan who struggles to send money home to his wife and child. Woken up and thwacked with a hammer by a gang of loan sharks who helped smuggle him into the U.S., Ming has until the end of the day to pay them $800 in juice—a daunting feat for a guy who's lucky to earn a tenth of that delivering broccoli and bean curd. Starkly shot in voyeuristically detached DV vérité by Greg the Bunny co-creator Sean Baker (who co-directs the film with Shih-Ching Tsou), Ming's race to make up the difference in tips after borrowing from friends and family has a compellingly hypnotic effect: Only the faces behind the apartment doors seem to change. But beyond the bickering yuppies, condescending complainers, and "that bitch at 845 West End," a seamless supporting cast of pros and amateurs and scenes shot in a real take-out restaurant during business hours—plus a palpable sense of levity amid the humility—makes for some of the most authentic neorealism this side of De Sica. This is as exceptional as microbudget cinema gets.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.