Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Take Shelter [2011]

Release Date: 30 September 2011 (USA)
Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Written By: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Steward, Shea Wingham
Duration: 120 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Curtis LaForche (played by Michael Shannon) lives in a small Ohio town along with his wife, Samantha (played by Jessica Chastain) and their six-year-old deaf daughter, Hannah (played by Tova Steward). Although they are generally a happy family, taking care of Hannah's healthcare and special needs education is somewhat of a struggle especially given the current economy situation. Curtis then starts to experience terrifying dreams and hallucinations about an apocalyptic storm which he believes is imminent. Curtis whom also has a family history of mental illness decides to keep this disturbance to himself at first and is obsessed with building an elaborate and expensive storm shelter in his backyard. This shelter threatens to tear both his family and sanity apart.
Thumbs Up:
+ An impeccable portrayal of the protagonist by Michael Shannon supported by a strong performance from Jessica Chastain
+ Powerful, gripping, and engaging story which is masterfully directed by Jeff Nichols
+ Refreshing that Curtis immediately researches and tries to cure his mental illness instead of ignoring it like how other films deals with it
Thumbs Down:
- Other than the role of Samantha, other characters are rather underdeveloped

The Verdict Is In:
This was one of the movies from 2011 (alongside other award-listed features such as The Artist, Hugo, The Descendants, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, etc) that I wanted to see but didn't get to do so in time before I created my list of 20 Favourite Movies Of 2011. If I were to recreate that list now, I would have no doubt that this film will command a very high position indeed on that new line-up. Why? Because this happens to be such a profusely haunting feature that had left me moved long after viewing it. Yes, it is these types of cinematic experience that we thrive for and makes us fall in love with movies in the first place.

Central to this film is the intense performance by Michael Shannon. You have to consider him to be massively unlucky that he didn't manage to bag Best Actor nominations at any of the major award shows recently. He was simply magnificent. And he wasn't the only one. Jessica Chastain who seemed to pop-up with strong performances everywhere last year does exactly so here too. The best part is that the great performances and characters are only half of what make this such a great feature. The story and directing is an absolute delight to from start to finish. Jeff Nichols is certainly one to keep an eye out for in the future.
9 out of 10


  1. Nice! I'm still holding off on making my best of 2011 list as I've yet to see this and a few others that might have a shot at being on it!

  2. If I were to do my list now, it would definitely be different from the one I made in January. Quite a few new additions too...

  3. This is the one that slipped away before I posted my top 20. I've been getting mixed reviews about it, but one thing for sure I want to see it because of Chastain.
    Thanks for sharing your views!

  4. I'm impressed with Chastain too. Knew nothing about her before this, and out of no where she popped-up last year with multiple films... and delivering strong performances in each one.

  5. Great movie with really acurate and moving insight into disturbed (or is it?) person's mind. I loved Chastain's performance as well, she is very talented.

  6. I love the "is it or isn't it" ending to the movie. Thanks for dropping by Sati.


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