Comments on watching and making films.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Take Shelter

Jeff Nichols feels like the David Gordon Green career we should have gotten after Snow Angels (instead of the decent into mediocrity that have been his follow ups). His debut feature, Shotgun Stories, was a slow burning, southern gothic, "family" film along the lines of Green's Undertow. His follow up, Take Shelter, reunites him with Shotgun Stories star Michael Shannon, and gives Nichols the chance to create something with all of the environment and feel of his debut, but to have a much more reserved and psychological approach to it.

Take Shelter stars Shannon as Curtis, a joe-average guy who begins to have apocalyptic visions, much to the concern of his wife, Samantha (played by Jessica Chastain), who begins to worry about him when he starts acting strange. Feeling a necessity to finish out an underground storm shelter in their backyard, Curtis devotes himself to the task, risking friendships, his job, and possibly his family. The big question, though, is this - Is Curtis crazy? or is he seeing something that no one else see's?

Take Shelter is, like Shotgun Stories, a bit of a slow burner, but once you start seeing what Curtis is seeing, the movie starts to find its steam. The film really draws you into the experience of this man, who feels so strongly about what he's experiencing, that he takes severe action to save his family. One can't help but see the biblical Noah story as a parallel. While God doesn't tell Curtis to do something (he is influenced by his dreams and visions), you see the effects of a man who has a singular, seemingly insane, mission that he undertakes.

Michael Shannon is awesome, as usual. You can't beat that dude. Chastain kills it too, with a subtlety and plainness that draws out the middle America in her. Shea Wigham, who plays Curtis's friend, has some really great moments too.

Take Shelter was really enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Nichols career goes.

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