There is a strange and unsettling sense of fear that runs deep in Take Shelter. We’ve all felt the tangible sense of restlessness before, especially over the past few years. The world’s financial structures are failing. There are uncontrollable mass disasters. And presidents are turning to war. There is a queasy feeling that there is “something” just beyond the horizon… Something that has our sixth senses tingling. Take Shelter, a hallucinatory thriller, is about just that – that gut feeling that you just can’t seem to shake. Michael Shannon shines in the role of a family man with visions of an apocalypse. It’s hard to argue that Take Shelter doesn’t deserve a place among the top ten movies of 2011.
Life is good for Curtis (Shannon), a modern working class Joe. He lives a virtually stress free life with his beautiful wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and their adorable hearing-impaired daughter, Hannah (Toya Stewart). His happy life is disturbed by nightmares of an impending storm – dark clouds gather, birds swarm by, the family dog attacks him and motor oil falls from the unsettling skies. He tries his best to shrug it off, but the dreams become increasingly vivid. Is he slowly losing his mind? Should he protect his family? Should he prepare for the coming disaster? Should he seek mental help? Is he a modern Noah? Or is it a metaphor for something in his own life? Day by day everything begins to unwind and Curtis’ actions become more and more questionable – especially since he won’t share his fears with anyone. After some erratic behaviour (building a storm shelter in their backyard) his family and friends grow concerned about his well-being.
This is a rare film that deserves to be experienced rather that explained. A film for troubled times. It is both thought-provoking and emotional, disturbing and heart-warming, jittery and powerful. And although things unfold at a very slow pace the end result is well worth the wait. Adam Stone’s cinematography is sublime and original music from David Wingo adds to the evocative mood of approaching doom. The real praise deservingly goes to Shannon and Nichols for painting an authentic portrait of fear.
It’s unforgiving that this film was overlooked for the Oscars. Let the world know – this is a masterpiece!