Friday, 6 January 2012

Take Shelter

Wow! Yet another top five contender in one of the best film years of the last decade. It’s been a while since I started a review with “Wow!”, so you know Take Shelter is getting an easy four stars.

Take Shelter is unlike anything I have seen before and that’s high praise right there. On the surface, it seems to be the story of a man (Curtis LaForche) whose vivid nightmares of a coming storm are the beginning of a steady descent into madness, following the path of his mother who had become schizophrenic when she was his age. But from the opening scene, we are never quite sure if that is the whole story. By the time the credits roll at the end of the film, we are even less sure. Between that opening scene and the credits, the intensity in Take Shelter builds with each passing minute. In the last few minutes of the film, I was regularly holding my breath. While I would not call Take Shelter a horror film, it’s one of the scariest films I have seen in years.

Take Shelter is primarily about two people: Curtis and Samantha, an ordinary Ohio couple in their mid-thirties with a six-year-old hearing-impaired daughter. Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain play the couple and their acting is awe-inspiring. They are completely believable as the happy and loving couple whose lives are sliding into crisis. Some of the scenes between them are among the best scenes of the year. Of course, those scenes owe a lot to the screenplay. Take Shelter was written and directed by Jeff Nichols, who has crafted a masterpiece that is likely the fifth film in 2011 to make my top 150 films of all time. It may be a low-budget indie film, but everything works perfectly. My mug is up for this **** thought-provoking and timely classic.

1 comment:

  1. After watching this, I was a little slow coming around, but I think I am going to agree that it was quite impressive. Here is why it took me some time to get there: 1) At first I kept assuming that it was making a metaphorical or parabolic question on whether (largely environmental) fears should be taken seriously or not. 2) As the movie neared completion, I felt forced to re-evaluate and wondered whether quite differently the movie was meant to depict the way American society had become overly paranoid and self-protective (war on terrorism). 3)Finally I came to the conclusion that the brilliance of the movie was in not being quite so didactic at all, but simply reflecting that (as in either of the two examples I just named) many of us can easily find ourselves torn about whether or not we should be deeply afraid or concerned and acting to protect ourselves or our earth. In other words it was well done enough that it could apply to either of those and more. And, of course, when we add to that very well-made depiction the clear pitch for our need to shelter each other, talk, share and trust each other as we walk through these difficult times, then something truly unique has happened. So, I'll echo the ****