Take Shelter

"Excellent"

Take Shelter Review


Shannon reteams with Shotgun Stories writer-director Nichols for another exploration of one man's wobbling mental state. But this time the story is much more introspective, and watching it is thoroughly unnerving.

Curtis (Shannon) lives in small-town America with his wife Samantha (Chastain) and their young daughter Hannah (Stewart). He has a good job in a quarry, which provides insurance so Hannah can get an operation to restore her hearing. But Curtis begins to suspect that his mind is slipping, rather like his schizophrenic mother (Baker). As his nightmares become increasingly horrific and vivid, he starts to become paranoid about a coming storm. And no one understands why he insists on building an underground shelter next to the house.

Nichols puts us into Curtis' deteriorating perspective from the opening shot, as we experience his dreams with eerie clarity. Everything about the film feels foreboding, from menacing storm-clouds to swirling flocks of circling birds.

Most intriguingly, this internalised style of filmmaking means that we actually understand Curtis' actions even though they're completely baffling to everyone around him, most notably Samantha, a work colleague (Whigham) and his boss (Longstreet). And each scene is a bundle of suggestions about what might happen next.

Shannon's performance matches this strikingly introspective approach, as he underplays the role with delicate, twitchy perfection. Not only can we see Curtis losing his grip on reality, but we can see that he suspects what's happening to him. So the tension to fix it is almost unbearable, especially as reflected in Chastain's expressive eyes. She sees something is wrong, but hasn't spotted his growing obsession. As a result, the film becomes increasingly involving. And deeply unsettling.

Along the way, Nichols continually throws in terrifying moments, usually in Curtis' nightmares, while the understated approach adds real dramatic power to the quiet dramatic scenes. As things escalate, the film is both viscerally scary and emotionally wrenching, with the added resonance of family, community and financial pressures. And the clever screenplay refuses to go where we expect, anchoring itself in tough, raw hope rather than pointless movie melodrama. And without even a whiff of sentimentality, the final scenes are remarkably moving.



Take Shelter

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 10th November 2011

Box Office USA: $1.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $272.5 thousand

Budget: $5M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Hydraulx, REI Capital, Grove Hill Productions, Strange Matter Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 139 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jeff Nichols

Producer: Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin

Starring: as Curtis, as Samantha, as Nat, as Dewart, as Kyle, Tova Stewart as Hannah, Natasha Randall as Cammie, Ron Kennard as Russell, Scott Knisley as Lewis, as Jim, Heather Caldwell as Special Ed Teacher, Sheila Hullihen as Woman in Road


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Amy Movie Review

Amy Movie Review

As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...

Terminator Genisys Movie Review

Terminator Genisys Movie Review

This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review

Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...

She's Funny That Way Movie Review

She's Funny That Way Movie Review

Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...

Advertisement
Everly Movie Review

Everly Movie Review

A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...

Slow West Movie Review

Slow West Movie Review

First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...

Entourage Movie Review

Entourage Movie Review

Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...

Advertisement