Cinequest 2020: Take Out Girl Review

By: Amanda Guarragi 

“They say innovation was born out of desperation.” 

Take Out Girl is a modern family drama that depicts the life of minorities and low income families living in Los Angeles. Tera Wong (Hedy Wong) is a desperate, twenty-year-old Asian girl, who wants to give her family a better life and help their failing restaurant. To make some extra money, Tera uses her family take out business, as a front for a profitable drug hustle. Her family lives in the projects of Los Angeles, known as the “Low Bottoms” and she plans on moving the restaurant to the suburbs, in order to go clean. Hedy Wong also co-wrote the screenplay with director Hisonni Johnson. Both worked together to create an authentic American film that is rooted in family values and achieving the American Dream.

From the very first moment we lay eyes on Tera, she has a very rigid demeanor. She keeps to herself and started hustling in school. She was a very bright business student and she would trade her notes, textbooks or answers to tests for money. She knew how to conduct herself and it was really refreshing to see that kind of characterization on screen. At first, I thought this is where Tera would be making her money but then she moved on to a different side hustle. As Tera goes on her journey with Kingpin Lalo (Ski Larr) and Hector (J. Teddy Garces) you feel the uneasiness in the air. Due to Tera’s feistiness and headstrong nature, her attitude towards Lalo reassures the audience that everything was going to be okay.

I think the writing is incredibly strong and the story is well executed, to the point where I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. They wrote the tension perfectly and paced out those key moment between Tera and Kingpin Lalo (Ski Larr) who shared great dialogue discussing family. I really enjoyed the soundtrack to this film and the opening credits set the tone for the entire film. $tupid Young and Raja Kumari composed hip hop music that flowed through the scenes. Johnson had some unique shots and directed the film through a lens that was so different and unique, especially in the telling of this story. It’s an important narrative that should only be handled by people who have been close to these situations. Other films lack the brutal honesty that comes with this territory and that’s why voices do matter.

The last half hour of this film, continued to escalate and so much was revealed. The way secrets were uncovered was probably my favourite part of this film. Everything came to a head, the stakes were too high and the connection between Tera’s family restaurant and Lalo was bound to reach a standstill. The tension in this film was perfect. I waited for scenes between, Tera and Lalo because of how strong their chemistry was, which definitely paid off at the end. Take Out Girl is a great family drama that shows the actual state of many low income families in America. It’s eye opening, effective and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.




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