Shelter

"Very Good"

Shelter Review


Paul Bettany makes a strong impression with his first film as a writer-director, exploring the big issue of homelessness from a variety of pointed angles. He also casts his wife Jennifer Connelly and his Avengers costar Anthony Mackie in demanding roles. The resulting film sometimes feels a little overworked dramatically, and relentlessly grim, but it's also provocative and moving.

It's set on the streets of New York, where Nigerian musician Tahir (Mackie) is living, having overstayed his US visa. Then he runs into junkie Hannah (Connelly), and the two have an immediate spark of camaraderie that blossoms into a tender relationship. But Tahir is trying to be a good Muslim, while Hannah is indulging in opportunistic crime to fund her habit. A brief respite squatting in an empty luxury home gets them off the streets briefly, so he can help her through withdrawal. And later when he's ill, she nurses him back to health. But finding somewhere to feel safe as winter bites down isn't easy. And desperation drives them to extraordinary actions.

The film is shot in an earthy, offhanded style that feels improvised, allowing Tahir and Hannah to emerge as complex people with a variety of talents and flaws. As they chat, details from their back-stories emerge, sparking anger and wrenching emotion, and drawing them inexorably together. Both Connelly and Mackie give performances that are full of passion. These are intelligent people who have been beaten down by life and don't have a clue where to turn next. So their sojourn in the empty house offers a glimpse into what kind of private life they would make if they had a chance, including borrowing some clean clothes from the vacationing owners ("I look like a zombie Goldilocks," Hannah observes).

There's a gentle authenticity to the entire film that makes these two people vividly engaging characters, fully formed people who have a lot to offer to society. And yet in their homelessness they are ignored and marginalised, left to grapple for anything they can get. Where this story goes is strikingly bleak, and since we have learned to like them it's very difficult to watch as they fight to get out from under the enormous weight of homelessness. So while the plot itself seems sometimes over-structured to push them over the brink, the film still helps us change the way we see people on the streets of our own cities.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th November 2015

Distributed by: Regent Releasing

Production compaines: Bifrost Pictures, The Bridge Finance Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Robert Ogden Barnum, Katie Mustard, Daniel Wag

Starring: as Hannah, as Tahir, as Carrie, as Peter, Andrew Polk as Dr. Patel, Paul Urcioli as Doctor, Teddy Cañez as Station Officer, Scott Johnsen as Terry, Rob Morgan as Franklin

Also starring:

Contactmusic


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