DVD Review: Take Shelter

PrintE-mail Written by Chris Holt


Review: Take Shelter (15) / Director: Jeff Nichols / Screenplay: Jeff Nichols / Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham / Release Date: Out Now

Imagine the scenario; you start receiving eerie, powerful and shocking visions of an apocalypse and how it affects your family. The dreams and visions don’t fade over time but instead increase in volume and intensity. What do you do? How do your loved ones react to your chosen path? It’s this simple yet unique conceit that Jeff Nichols’ second film as a director, Take Shelter, explores in a thorough and absorbing manner. The film is already under the radar thanks to the limited release it got late last year. Take Shelter is a film that deserves your immediate attention now that it’s out on DVD.

The film takes place in the recognisably familiar environments of small town America that Stephen King likes to call his home. Curtis (Michael Shannon) is plagued by visions of an epic storm and strange rain that affects people in homicidal fashion. The visions and dreams are so intense that they affect him physically as well as mentally. Worryingly Curtis has a family history of mental illness with his mother being diagnosed as a schizophrenic at roughly the same age Curtis is. His beautiful wife (Jessica Chastain) is understanding although clearly troubled by the fact that Curtis begins to build a shelter in their back yard.

The film works on a few levels, mainly as a study of mental illness with performances for the ages and also as a thoroughly modern re-telling of the Noah’s Ark myth. It’s in the study of possible mental illness where the film is most successful. Michael Shannon is quite simply amazing as the everyman suddenly thrust into self-doubt and turmoil by his visions. There is a well of emotion bubbling away just under the surface of the man and when it finally erupts it results in a classic scene of brilliantly judged acting by Shannon. Jessica Chastain is equally impressive in one of her several performances in 2011 that justifies the sudden hype around her. The writing and direction is top notch, Jeff Nichols has a focussed, unfussy style very reminiscent of Frank Darabont and, instead of having it be a simple back and forth between Shannon’s ranting and the community disbelieving him, has the characters exhibit differing reactions. His best friend for example listens to Curtis, thinks he has issues but helps him anyway out of loyalty and eventually to his own detriment. Nichols throws in a subplot about the family’s daughter being deaf and needing an expensive operation. This works as a nice counterpoint to underscore the desperation Curtis feels in his situation. He is so convinced of the coming Armageddon that he will risk the current health of his only daughter to protect her from certain death.

The Noah’s Ark subtext is not blatantly there in the way it would be in a lesser director’s hands but should you be prepared to give it some thought it’s undeniable. In the Noah’s Ark tale, Noah is informed by god that a great flood will be coming and to take two of each animal on to an ark in order that life survives and can re-build. Imagine this story in a modern setting and that’s pretty much Take Shelter. You can see the visions Curtis experiences as a test of faith whilst all around him have doubts. Is Curtis chosen? Is he a prophet of some sort? The film offers no easy answers and asks you to make up your own mind.

The ending is one that will divide people but also provoke serious thought and debate like the best cinema can. Take Shelter is a mesmerising film not to be missed.

Special Features: Behind the scenes with director and cast commentary, Deleted Scenes.



Suggested Articles:
There have been plenty of films that have explored the relationship between mental illness and vampi
Juan Piquer Simón is an unheralded icon of low budget horror movies. The Spanish director was respo
There’s something about film festivals that induces far more extreme reactions than normal in audi
When a young Romanian housekeeper called Elena (Cosmina Stratan) becomes the live-in help to wealthy
scroll back to top

Comments  

 
0 #1 Ivona Poyntz 2012-08-01 18:36
Take Shelter is indeed a mesmerising film and addresses some serious issues about mental health in a sensitive way.
Quote
 

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

THE ECSTASY OF ISABEL MANN 01 October 2016

SLUGS 29 September 2016

BITE 29 September 2016

SHELLEY 29 September 2016

WOLF CREEK - THE COMPLETE FIRST SERIES 28 September 2016

DARLING 27 September 2016

FRIEND REQUEST 27 September 2016

PATHS OF GLORY (1957) 27 September 2016

THE EVIL IN US 27 September 2016

CONSUMPTION 27 September 2016

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner