Ally Sheedy used to be so cute. Oh sure, her characters sometimes exhibited a bit of a darker side. The creepily brooding, proto-goth chick Allison Reynolds in “The Breakfast Club,” for instance. Yet even then, she looked like a cute girl pretending to be full of angst; an illusion made even more transparent during the unfortunate “Short Circuit” years.
Since largely dropping out of the public consciousness recently, Sheedy has slowly begun compiling an impressive resume of bold, extremely quirky (or downright weird) roles in obscure indie films. Her performance as the bizarre, possibly psychotic persistent suitor Bernice in director Adrienne Shelly’s “I’ll Take You There” is but the latest such turn.
We meet Bernice through Bill (Reg Rogers). A decent, if slightly pathetic sad sack real estate agent, Bill sold an upstate New York vacation home to his friend Ray (John Pyper-Ferguson)…who now lives there with Bill’s wife Rose (Lara Harris), whom he stole from his former friend.
Bill’s sister Lucy (director Shelly), frustrated by her brother’s despondency after three months, shows up at Bill’s apartment with the news that she’s fixed him up on a date with her friend Bernice…seconds before the latter knocks on his door.
Needless to say, the ensuing “date” is a debacle on a scale matched only by the ongoing election imbroglio. Still, the evening is perversely infuriating enough to Bernice that she sets out in pursuit of Bill; a single-minded quest that some statutes refer to as “stalking.” Armed robberies, a road trip to visit a dying grandmother, tuba sonatas and sultry rest stop dances at gun point follow as Bernice stubbornly accompanies Bill on one last desperate ruse to grovel face-to-face before his precious Rose.
While Sheedy provides what star power exists in this highly unconventional romantic comedy, it’s Rogers’ stoic, patiently suffering Bill who anchors the film. His is perhaps the quintessential New York face; as scruffy and worn as it is expressive. A show-stealing turn by Alice Drummond as Bernice’s feisty dying grandma Stella provides the perfect counterpoint to Bill’s brooding melancholy.
Shelly effectively uses a handful of flashbacks to fill in her characters’ back stories at the appropriate times; a technique that’s initially confusing but ultimately rewarding.
The same might be said about Ally Sheedy’s career choices.