Take Shelter (2011)
A Review By Ben Hunter
5 Out Of 5 Stars
September 30, 2011
It's something to think about how we come about quality and the things that make us appreciate the finer things in life. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce a work of art in all of its eeriness and the pristine, mint condition its quality upholds.
Prepare ... to be blown away!
Take Shelter is a modern day, current story about a family in a small, rural, American town, that survives a storm that appears to be on the surface, "a storm's coming", as they say. We follow the father, Curtis (Michael Shannon), as he starts to have realistic dreams, which are more like nightmares. Curtis has a dream and a real, physical, side effect would occur the next day. Every dream would deal overall with the fact that a major storm was on the horizon and that he, his family, and everyone in this small town, should “take shelter”.
Night and day, night and day the nightmares would get more and more serious and feel as if they’re telling him something. So he decides to expand on his tornado shelter in his backyard. This causes gossip amongst the fellow neighbors and townspeople. Everyone now thinks Curtis is loosing his sanity by building this gigantic shelter in his backyard, which causes embarrassment amongst his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) who feels like sole parent now to his young daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) who’s deaf.
Curtis, taking drastic measures to get the shelter made, behind his wife’s back nonetheless because he thinks no one will believe him and try to hinder his plans, now has given the town something to really gossip about. This causes his wife to make Curtis deal with what’s really going on, his head, when she eventually catches on. Could all this have hereditably spawned from his mother who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when she was around the same age as Curtis? Is Curtis making all of this up? Maybe this is all just in his mind? … Or is he right? Is there a storm REALLY on its way and should we all … “Take Shelter”?
This was a wonderfully acted job from Michael Shannon in the film. What more could someone ask for in a character that’s trying to do what he feels is best without being called crazy or hindered because he truly believes in what he’s doing? His character, Curtis, looses one of his friendships, with the character Dewart (Shea Whigham), along the way in building the shelter and it’s during the confrontation that everything comes out in the open amongst the majority of the town. Everything is now in your face at this moment and it’s one of those moments where we hear the issue on everyone’s mind, no holding back. With knowledge of the film’s ending, one can assume and only hope that the friendship will slowly be pieced back together in the foreseeable future.
Jessica Chastain does an amazing job as the stressed out wife and mother trying to keep her family together; raising her young, deaf child with little to no help from her husband going off on a psychological tangent with the “storm” on the horizon. She’s been a very busy actress having done 5 films in a year, this being one of the 5, and still keeping it together by separately managing each character she portrays.
I think the “storm” in the movie stands for a couple of different interpretations and not just the obvious, which I believe what writer/director Jeff Nichols was going for. It’s the storms we go through in life that challenge us and those we love that help us to figure out how to become better people in the end. It’s the journey more so than the destination in life and going through the storms on that journey makes the destination that much more desirable and much more worth it in the end.
Take Shelter helps us realize this concept in an innovate, sensitive, heart felt, and beautiful, breath-taking way. All while capturing our attention with its eeriness, compeling story and character dynamic, and the edge of your seat suspense that it keeps us on our toes with all along this journey. The quality of the film really does make one think of how much work was put into it and discovering the art in this masterpiece, allowing one to truly appreciate the finer things in life.
Prepare … to be blown away!
So take shelter!
Drama, 120 Minutes, R
Written & Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Katy Mixon, and Shea Whigham