6 jun. 2012

My Review: Take Shelter (9/10)

¨You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up, there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it. ¨

I finally was able to catch up with this film which I was anticipating for quite some time now but never had a chance to see it since it wasn’t released where I live. I was really excited that I finally got to see it because it was really worth the wait. It was better than I anticipated and I really loved how young director Jeff Nichols slowly built the tension in this film. For many viewers Take Shelter may feel like it is slow paced at times, but I was so into the film that I loved how the movie was unfolding before my eyes. I had no problem with the slow buildup because the movie was just so beautiful to watch and the hallucination sequences were really strong thanks to an incredible performance from Michael Shannon. This isn’t your typical thriller where all of a sudden you experience a surprise twist, but it is more like a dramatic thriller where you have the tension slowly building and growing. That is exactly what Michael Shannon`s character goes through as he becomes more and more immersed into this world of trying to figure out what is real and what is hallucination. It is not like if from one moment to the next he just automatically changed, but more like a slow progressive change which begins to unfold before the eyes of his family and community. Jeff Nichols is one to keep an eye considering he not only directed this great film, but wrote it as well. This is just his second film, his first, Shotgun Stories, also starred Shannon, and his third film, Mud, has recently been released in the Cannes film festival receiving a lot of praise.

Curtis (Michael Shannon) lives in a nice small home with his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and young daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who`s deaf. Everyone in the community looks up to them, but Curtis begins to experience some strange hallucinations about a storm. These are no ordinary hallucinations, as he has trouble sleeping and wakes up sweating. The first dream had to do with a storm coming and all of a sudden his dog bites his arm. When he awakes from the nightmare the pain in his arm doesn’t go away and he begins to worry something bad is going to happen. He ends up locking his dog in the backyard and decides he should build a sort of shelter in his yard. He doesn’t tell Samantha about his problem, but keeps to himself trying to find some help by reading mental illness books and seeking advice from professional councilors. The hallucinations become stronger and stronger and his friends begin to worry about him. The dreams push Curtis further and further away from his friends and family as he keeps to himself and doesn’t try to communicate his problems. We discover he has family history after he visits his mother who suffered from schizophrenia when she was 30. Curtis fears the worst, but also decides to prepare in case his dreams become true.

These constant hallucinations and dreams have us the viewers questioning ourselves whether what Curtis is actually experiencing is a hallucination or some sort of prophesy. We do not know what to believe, but evidently something is wrong with Curtis. What Nichols does well is make the issue not only a personal one, but one that affects the entire family. That is where Jessica Chastain`s character comes in as she plays an important role in trying to keep the family together and trying to help her husband with his mental illness. She is excellent in her role and received a lot of critical acclaim as Michael Shannon did. They both won several awards for their roles in this film, although Chastain did have a bigger year with other films like The Help and The Tree of Life. I had seen Shannon in several smaller roles in the past, but this was the first time that I actually got to see him in the lead role, and he was just brilliant. I absolutely loved this film and the ambiguous ending also played out really well in my opinion. I will definitely be looking out for Nichols`s next film, Mud.

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