Title: Take Care
Director: Liz Tuccillo
Starring: Leslie Bibb, Thomas Sadoski, Marin Ireland, Nadia Dajani, Michael Stahl-David, Michael Godere and Betty Gilpin
Fiercely holding onto a sense of independence as you struggle to overcome physical and emotional setbacks is an intensely powerful ambition many women strive to achieve throughout their lives. Despite the offers of support they receive from their friends and family who wish to help them during their painful recovery process, maintaining that freedom often allows women to feel as though they have control over what’s happening to them. New York City producer Liz Tuccillo strikingly showcased that fact with the new comedy-drama, ‘Take Care,’ which marks her feature film writing and directorial debuts. Through the romantic movie’s strong and motivated female protagonist, the filmmaker powerfully showcases that no matter what obstacles women face, their determination to succeed is a thriving characteristic that truly helps them achieve what they want on their own.
‘Take Care’ follows Frannie (Leslie Bibb), a single young woman who works at a public relations company and lives in Manhattan. After she’s involved in a car accident and breaks her right arm and left leg, she refuses her sister Fallon’s (Nadia Dajani) offer to stay with her and her family in suburban New Jersey while she recovers. She instead insists on recuperating in her four-story walkup, but requires her best friend, Laila (Marin Ireland), and Fallon to help her get up the stairs after she returns home from the hospital. When they realize they need help getting Frannie upstairs to her apartment, they ask her standoffish next-door neighbor, Kyle (Michael Stahl-David), to help carry her upstairs. He reluctantly agrees, despite being in a rush to get to work and not having a close relationship with Frannie.
While Fallon, Laila and Frannie’s other best friend, Jason (Michael Godere), insist they’re going to continuously help her during her recovery, their own personal and professional obligations prevent them from visiting her on a daily basis. After she stumbles next door to ask Kyle help her make a sandwich, he blatantly tells her that she can’t depend on everyone else to always be readily available to take care of her. That startling realization becomes more prevalent when she finds out that her ex-boyfriend, Devon (Thomas Sadoski), who broke up with her after she helped him during his illness, just signed a $6 million dollar deal with Yahoo! for one of his software programs.
Despite insisting to her sister and friends that she no longer cares what Devon does, Frannie is disheartened that he’s become so successful, especially after she spent two years taking care of him when he was diagnosed with cancer. After making an impulsive decision, she calls Devon and demands that he take care of her while she recovers from her accident, despite the fact that they haven’t spoken in to each other in years. After his initial reluctance, Devon eventually agrees to take care of her, even though he lives with his girlfriend, Jodi (Betty Gilpin). While Jodi admits her jealousy over the connection Devon formed with Frannie during his battle with cancer is something she needs to work on, he assures her that their romantic relationship is long over. But as he spends more time in Frannie’s apartment as she recovers from her accident, they come to realize that they still have romantic feelings for each other, and are forced to contend with the consequences.
While ‘Take Care’ marks Tuccillo’s first time writing and directing a feature film, she rivetingly and naturally chronicled Frannie’s sheer determination to not only overcome her injuries on her own terms, but also contend with her past and current feelings about Devon. The writer enthralling presented the usually fearless protagonist as personally being vulnerable for one of the few times throughout her life as she was confined to her apartment during her recovery process. Combined with her resentment that Devon has unabashedly moved on from their relationship and found happiness with Jodi, Frannie understandably felt shunned and not worthy of being taken care of, which Kyle unashamedly pointed out. In order to overcome her feelings of unworthiness and neglect, the captivating protagonist grippingly sets out to improve her injuries and emotions on her own, without revealing her true fears and desires to Devon and her friends.
In a captivating effort to truly emphasize Frannie’s resolve to mainly rely on herself during her recovery, after she realizes her sister, friends and most importantly Devon, can’t fully commit to helping her, Tuccillo rightfully cast Bibb as the engaging lead character. The actress, who worked alongside the filmmaker as a producer on the comedy-drama, charmingly infused her often courageous and valiant character with a natural vulnerability not only during her challenging interactions with her sister, friends and next-door neighbor, but especially throughout her times with Devon. While Frannie tried to rebuff her own deepening feelings for her ex-boyfriend as she stated contacting him was just a way for him to return the favor for when she took care of him, Bibb effectively showcased her hope they could rekindle their relationship.
With the majority of Frannie’s road to recovery is set in her apartment, Tuccillo intriguingly filmed ‘Take Care’ on location in a real apartment in New York City. With the apartment offering only a limited amount of space for the injured Frannie to move around and let her arm and leg heal, the film’s production designer, Jacqueline Jacobson Scarfo, creatively worked to reflect the protagonist’s struggle with being confined during her recovery. With the pull-out sofa bed that Frannie spent most of her time, between watching television and talking with Devon when he visited her, her cluttered space powerfully imitated her feelings of being emotional trapped in her relationship with him.
The designer’s creative layout of the rest of the recovering protagonist’s apartment, from her cramped kitchen and restrictive bathroom, also enthralling allowed Bibb to increase her clever physical comedy. From painfully limping to the refrigerator to struggling to brush her teeth and wash her hair, the actress amusingly brought a natural comic relief to her determination to overcome her limitations during her months-long recovery.
The intriguing exploration of a strong-willed female protagonist who’s determined to rely on her own perseverance to remain in control of her feelings and life is enthralling presented in Tuccillo’s relatable feature film writing and directorial debuts. With Bibb effortlessly infusing the ever fearless Frannie as not being afraid to go after what she wants or take care of herself when she needs to, ‘Take Care’ is a gripping exploration of how an initially painful situation can actually become rewarding. Combined with the amusing physical comedy Bibb naturally engaged in throughout her character’s apartment, which was filed with an impressive and engaging production design from Jacobson Scarfo, the romantic comedy-drama proves that romantic films can be intelligent and realistic.
Written by: Karen Benardello