Blu-Ray Review – Take Shelter
There seems to be a new apocalyptic film out every other week lately and whilst most lack originality, every once in while a film comes along with a fresh perspective on the genre, Take Shelter is one such film, but does it deliver? Tom Bielby checks it out…
Focussing on the build up to a possible global disaster, Take Shelter looks at the life of Curtis, a family man who experiences visceral dreams and nightmares that appear to predict a forthcoming catastrophe. Throughout the film we are unsure if these visions really are prophetic or if Curtis is suffering from the same illness that affected his mother when she was his age, and it is the answer to this mystery that drives the narrative forward as Curtis delves deeper into his past whilst the visions that plague him become more profound.
Michael Shannon is perfectly cast as Curtis, he has been blessed with a face that always looks confused and this is a fitting characteristic considering his character’s uncertain state of mind. Although it is a great performance, I can’t help feeling that the Oscar buzz surrounding his role is any more than hot air, Shannon’s explosive outburst halfway through the film is phenomenal but he spends most of the movie staring into the sky, completely mystified by the onset of gloomy weather.
The sunshine in Curtis’ life is his deaf daughter Hannah, who he will do anything to protect and is one of the key reasons behind his decision to build the titular shelter that will keep his family safe if his predictions of a catastrophe ring true. Jessica Chastain is excellent as the glue that keeps the family together when her husband begins to show signs of instability, despite her doubts as to his seemingly crazy obsession with creating a shelter in their own back garden.
The visions of the coming apocalypse are impressive without being too showy, and some of the nightmarish images actually had the effect of prompting an elderly couple next to me to leave before the film had even got going! These dream sequences are amongst the best scenes in the film as the unexpected events that are depicted in Curtis’ visions are in complete contrast to the more mundane aspects of his reality.
It is a shame that the majority of the film’s highlights are glimpsed in the trailer, as this led me to believe that Take Shelter was going to be something very special indeed. I am a huge fan of films where we are unsure if the protagonist is mentally ill or if the apocalypse really is on its way such as in Save the Green Planet or Day of the Beast, even if we know that there are only ever two possible outcomes, I find myself drawn in, desperate to discover which way the director in question will conclude his film. Unfortunately, Take Shelter meandered for far too long, and whilst the cinematography and acting were close to perfect, the story just wasn’t captivating enough to prevent my attention from waning.
I would not want to deter people from giving Take Shelter a chance, as it has received high praise in a number of early reviews, but for me it just didn’t deliver. Shannon’s performance is commendable, the concept for the story is fascinating and the nightmarish images are inventive but the film seemed to lack a heart, and this was confirmed near the end of the film when I had my fingers crossed that a violent storm would come and pluck Curtis from the ground…
TAKE SHELTER IS RELEASED ON BLU-RAY AND DVD IN UK ON 19TH MARCH 2012
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
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