REVIEW: #TakeMeAnywhere #ManIFF2018

‘At 19:42:21 on 23.05.2016 LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner are at 60°23'10"N 151°19'05"W.
From 23 May until 23 June 2016
You are invited to pick up the artists
Whenever their coordinates are posted above
And take them anywhere.’

That is how it began.
American actor Shia LaBeouf and long-time collaborators (having worked on eight projects together since #IAMSORRY in 2014) Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner embarked on a thirty-day ‘hitchhike of the internet’ in the summer of 2016. LaBeouf said of the project on Vice when they returned home, “It’s the most expansive and most intimate thing we’ve done.” Supported by the Finnish Institute of London and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the trio began the trip in Colorado and finished in Alaska.

During the Q&A that followed the screening at Manchester International Film Festival, LaBeouf stated that the editing process consisted of the three heading to their own homes and making their own edits. He said of his own that it ended up very ‘dark’, and they eventually chose to use Turners cut, as it was “the most neutral.” However neutral it may be, the editing tone of the final piece was too fragmented. The film would have fared a lot better had they chosen to extend the forty-five-minute run-time. As an audience, we didn’t get enough time with any of the people they met, and I felt I only saw something of a personal holiday montage.
The film has an idea and a destination that’s clear and meaningful, it’s the getting there that falls flat. Lots of monologues from the people they meet over footage of laughing in cars and cliff climbing paints a picture of the perfect American road trip, but somehow it alienated its audience. It’s encouraging us to venture to meet new people and make genuine human connections, but how many of us can post our whereabouts online and hope that someone with good intentions takes us to the Grand Canyon or to a juggling class?
I did enjoy the film, but I imagine if not for the star power of Labeouf, this project would not have worked at all. The trio recognize this in speaking at the festival, but this recognition does not appear in the work itself, with only one or two shots of Rönkkö and Turner and a fair few of LaBeouf stopping for photos with fans.

Accompanying the final ten minutes is a fitting acoustic track in which the artist sings “love comes to me.” An appropriate sentiment in a documentary that invites connection and relationships with anyone and everyone. At the surface, #TAKEMEANYWHERE has a big heart and a message of love and learning to share with its audience. A longer cut of their time on the trip and a solid structure might just have just made it something really special.


The full documentary can now be watched online here.