After my abysmal experience watching the 2011 version of The Thing, I was going to give films a rest for a while. But like a cowboy who’s been thrown off his horse, I decided to get right back in the saddle. I’m glad I did. Because if I had not, I would have missed the brilliance that is Take Shelter.
This brilliant “little” film was noticed by my daughter Meg. She had seen a trailer and it piqued her interest. We decided to check it out. Am I glad we did.
Take Shelter is a film written and directed by relative newcomer Jeff Nicols. It stars Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham. Michael Shannon, fresh from working on Boardwalk Empire, gives a more than impressive performance as Curtis. Curtis is a typical “every-man” who is suffering from violent and intense dreams – or are they visions? He is also beginning to hear things. Jessica Chastain plays his loving wife, who despite her anger and frustration at her husbands strange behaviour, supports him as much as she can. Shea Whigham is Curtis’s best friend who he has a falling out with. Tova Stewart gives an absolutely delightful performance as Curtis’s hearing impaired daughter.
I have, after watching this film, become a Michael Shannon fan-boy. He has an “old fashioned” look about him. He makes me think of a cross between two late actors, Vic Morrow and Chuck Conners. *Shannon is actually six feet three inches tall* He is well know for playing “twitchy” characters. I do know that he made me really care about his character. In fact all the main actors gave me the feeling that they were folks I have known or worked with.
The visions (?) that Curtis sees deal a lot with some kind of super storm. He decides that he must improve their tornado shelter. Despite losing his job and not being able to afford it he continues with his improvement plan. He is also beginning to suspect that his visions are really some sort of mental illness. I cannot go any further into the plot of the film for fear of giving too much away.
This film looked beautiful. The cinematography is stunning and crisp. The writing is perfect, it allows the actors to fully flesh out their characters and gives the viewers a tense emotional ride. We spend almost the entire film worrying about whether Curtis is nuts or if he really knows something that no one else does.
I always judge how good a film is by how I feel when it reaches the end frame. If I immediately want to watch it again, I know it is a brilliant film. When Take Shelter finished, I did want to see it all over again.
Take Shelter is a little hard to fit into a genre, but, it definitely should be seen. It is a real shame that something this good did not even receive a nod at the Oscars.