• Wendy Shreve


If Thomas Wolfe had his way, no one would go home again. However, he didn't have an estranged father who passed away suddenly or a million-dollar house to sell. Martin's got a bigger problem, however. His father, Kenneth or Ken, left more than a home behind; he left Ted.

After Martin's mother died, Ken immediately began a relationship with his lover. His son, Martin, a straight man that left his hometown of Orleans, Massachusetts for New York City years before, hasn't been able to accept his father's about-face. Returning dredges up painful memories. Meanwhile, Ted continues to grieve over the love of his life and fears losing his home.

What could've been a sappy melodrama, Give or Take (2020) becomes, in part, a funny story about two very different people who must find common ground. Helping them along the way are a stoner, Terence, a hilarious Louis Cancelmi; Martin's lost, unrequited love, Emma (a pitch perfect Joanne Tucker), and a neighbor's off-center young boy, Colin (a natural Jaden Waldman). A thorn in Ted and Martin's side, Patty King (Cheri Oteri, wonderfully funny and annoying), on the other hand, adds to the chaos.

Veteran stage/screen actor Norbert Leo Betz's Ted who can't control his emotions and Jamie Effros' Martin who cannot express his impress. They evoke sympathy and humor.

Although Writers Paul Riccio (he also directs) and Effros have developed an often amusing, touching narrative, the momentum lags and scenes border on being pat. A sudden appearance by Martin's girlfriend (Lauren, a solid Annapurna Sriram), for example, is awkward. When the unpredictable does occur, these scenes raise the bar and help compensate for any missteps.

Bigger picture themes, e.g. the cost-of-living on Cape Cod, housing, finding multiple jobs to stay afloat will be familiar to locals. Iconic eateries (Land Ho! and Snowy Owl in Brewster) as well as other landmarks (Wellfleet Drive-In) may be recognizable to yearly visitors, too.

As the opening entry to the Provincetown International Film Festival, Give or Take appeals to anyone who has had to fight their inner demons, unpack familial baggage and learn to accept the consequences of change.

Unrated. Profanity and drug use.

A Provincetown International Film Festival selection. Now showing at various festivals throughout the U.S.


Earlier reviews are available on

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