Take Shelter (2011)
A modern poetic thriller centred around a family on the verge of collapsing. Take Shelter combines apocalyptic terror and mental illness to create a constantly shifting cinematic nightmare. Directed by Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories), who’s much anticipated release Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey is set for theatres later this year. Take Shelter’s two bright stars are oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and co-star, also an oscar nominated heavyweight, Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life). With layer upon layer of spirit and dread, Take Shelter succeeds in adapting a believable tale of horror and the effect the absence of mental stability has on family, career, and upon one self.
Curtis (Shannon) is a hard working father and husband who starts experiencing hallucinations and vivid nightmares. Choosing not to confide in his wife Samantha (Chastain) what is happening, Curtis’s condition worsens. When Curtis begins to hallucinate an apocalyptic storm in the future, he begins to construct an expensive, time consuming storm shelter. When social and career altering decisions are being made without consulting Samantha, Curtis’s family begins to fall apart. As he tries to deal with his illness and building the shelter, Curtis now must repair his personal relationships.
From the moment Take Shelter begins, it sets it’s hooks in you with striking images of storms and cataclysmic occurrences. Beyond any doubt, Take Shelter holds Michael Shannon’s best performance to date and one of the best of 2011. Shannon’s portrayal of a man suffering from anxiety and paranoia is stunningly accurate. Shannon completely invests himself in the character and for two hours, you forget it is just a film. Chastain is perfect as always and once again makes her performance look effortless. As far as direction, Nichols uses the power of Shannon’s acting to drive the film in majority but adds the beauty and scariness of nature to compliment the spectrum in Shannon’s character. Take Shelter is literal, exact, ambient, and resplendent, the summit of what cinema should be.
Take Shelter: 9 out of 10.