Review: Take Shelter

Blu-ray: Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter is one of those films that flies underneath a lot of film fans radars. Reading the blurb about the film – Man (Michael Shannon) who lives with wife (Jessica Chastain) and deaf daughter in a small Ohio town begins to have apocalyptic dreams, and fears for his own sanity as he becomes obsessed with building a storm shelter in his garden.

Sounds a bit… weird, perhaps a little ‘out there’ and not a film anyone would click on their Netflix list.

However, Take Shelter is one of the most individual, heart wrenching and dare I say thrilling films of recent years.

Writer/Director Jeff Nichols has produced, in a somewhat understated way, some of the best latter ‘indie’ films including Mud, Loving and the wonderful Midnight Special.

All tell tales that must be close to his heart, of normal people, leading normal lives, with a twist in the tale.

Take Shelter is a slow build, with time allowed to get to know the wife; Sam, and husband Curtis, and their relationships with family and all-consuming love for their deaf daughter, Hannah.

They love realistically, they are tender, and they are believable. His job gives them great medical benefits which means Hannah could have a cochlear implant. We see their lives. So when Curtis begins to have nightmares about an impending storm which brings death and destruction, it’s a jolt. As much of a jolt as him suddenly sitting bolt upright in bed.  He begins to see ‘signs’ that other people are unaware of: Clouds gather and whirlwinds whirl in the distance, thousands of starlings mumurate before him, the house appears to be thrown into space, the furniture losing its gravity, and only Curtis sees it.

He begins to plan, he extends the storm shelter and to do that he borrows money he shouldn’t, loses his best friend and his job, and alienates his wife.

Where other films might let Curtis descend into madness, Take Shelter’s Curtis goes to the library and finds books on mental illness, he seeks out help, he talks to his mentally ill mother.

His wife on finding out he’s lost his job and has therefore ruined any chance of their daughter’s treatment, slaps him and leaves, to return later and carry on, because she knows what kind of man he really is and she loves him.

Treating the audience as if they have a brain, none of this is said out loud, but merely by glances and light touches.

Chastain is as always wonderful, but Shannon is a revalation. Mostly portraying the ‘sort of’ bad guy (Shape of Water, Batman Vs Superman, 99 Homes, Boardwalk Empire) here we see what a great actor this man is, as most actors tend to play different versions of themselves, Shannon is transformed and wonderful as a man filled with love, yet wracked with pain.

There is a mention of religion in the story, as Curtis is admonished for missing church by his father in law, but religion, normally hand in hand with ‘visions’ has no place here, this is purely secular, it’s human, it’s the environment, it’s the economy and its great success is that despite it being about a man who has visions telling him that the rain of the storm will turn humans into killers and he has to run away from humanity to save his family, it’s still grounded and believable, and is a real joy to watch.

So any film fans out there who haven’t seen this, buy it, then buy Midnight Special. Cracking films.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Limited Edition packaging (only 2000)
  • Building The Shelter – A new exclusive interview with director Jeff Nichols
  • 2011 Ebertfest hour long Q&A with Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon
  • DP30 interview with Jeff Nichols, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain
  • Interview with Jeff Nichols at the Cannes Film Festival
  • 2011 Toronto Film Festival interviews with Jeff Nichols, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain
  • Behind-The-Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Limited 40 page booklet with new writing by Michael Brooke and Film School Rejects interview with Jeff Nichols by Jack Giroux
  • English subtitles for the hearing impaired

You can buy Take Shelter by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.

Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Aim Publicity from Second Sight Films.