Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Katy Mixon, Shea Whigham, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Tova Stewart and Stuart Greer.
Take Shelter is one of the best independent dramas of last year and presents whatever it wanted to in a very unique way. By the previews it looked like a very surreal and subtle movie with apocalyptic theme and i was excited to see it in a big way. I found this movie very powerful and a wonderful piece of cinema and film making. Take Shelter tells the story of a family, a typical middle class family with financial problems. Michael Shannon plays Curtis, Jessica Chastain plays Samantha who is his wife and their daughter Hannah played by Tova Stewart. Now their daughter is deaf and has a surgery to undergo and their medical insurance covers just about that only if Curtis maintains his current job, even Samantha works extra making handmade items to sell at the market. There is something wrong in this family something really wrong, Curtis gets these apocalyptic and disturbing nightmares that bothers him. And not just that but even when he is wide awake and outside, he hallucinates. Take Shelter is a spooky, hallucinating, spellbinding and quite unsettling thriller that gets under your skin and creeps you out even hours after its viewing.
You can't just literally take it as a apocalyptic drama or something but it is deep, very deep. It represents the current state of mind of the people no matter where they are and no matter how rich or poor they are they all share the same fear. This movie definitely disturbs you in a way and leave you in a weird state, very difficult to ignore and to like at the same time but you would definitely admire the great work they put in to make this movie. Michael Shannon have given some incredible performances of mostly torchered or insane souls but this is more developed, deep and more build up complete performance than anything he did before which makes it one of the best of last year. His work in movies like Bug and Revolutionary Road for which he was nominated for an Oscar is stunning. He deserved the same this time but wasn't nominated even though he won many Critics choice ones. Michael Shannon really acted superbly as a father and a husband trying very hard to do the best of his family and instead comes to a state of mind where he questions himself. Himself in the way that his family needs protection from the coming storm or simply him. I could really get where this was going and whatever that was going on simply because it gets clear at a point where its not just about a certain type of family but a collective sort of state of mind of everyone. The story of mental illness and financial anxiety in a pretty symbolic way reflects on those points. It is not clear but Curtis is suffering from a mental illness because his mother was a Schizophrenic at the exact time in her life as her son but the end, what about it? So yes it goes symbolic in that way because its not about what you see but what its trying to say.
The whole nightmares and hallucinations part of the movie is a one stunning work, he dreams of people around him in danger and tries to protect them when he wakes up. Like when he sees his own dog attacking him he wakes up to build a safety shed and keeps him there all the time. He fears of loosing his child and family and those moments are very intensely portrayed and not overdone. And when he is wide awake he sees approaching clouds of super storms and hears thunder sounds that no one else seems to as the skies are bright, shiny and clear. He sees flocks of birds migrating in a bunch and the next moment they fall from sky like rain. The rain drops that fall have a different color, probably referring to the acid rain or something. Those dreams get so intense at times that he gets effected by it in real, his sleep, hunger and yes he wets the bed too once which forces him to go to the doctor but first read about what might be wrong with him. Due to the fear he starts building a tornado shelter without discussing with his wife making them financially worst, things also get bad with his friend when he on his expense use the company's machinery on that due to which both of them loses the job that makes things extremely terrible for them. The point in the movie where it seems like that storm have actually struck where, as throughout the movie you get sympathetic with Curtis, you get a relief but then it turns out his mind played trick on him but as i said the end comes where it actually happens and you are left in a state of shock.
Michael Shannon is just outstanding, the scene at the cafeteria or hotel whatever it is where he confronts his friends for the first time after he gets him fired is a stunning one. He just explodes out the fear and anger on everyone is such a way that reminds you of the one of a kind performance of Daniel Day Lewis in There will be Blood. Michael Shannon gets very deep and comfortable in the character that makes him very believable. My favorite supporting actress of last year Jessica Chastain gets a very strong role here with much time and freedom to really prove she is a fantastic performer. Chastain is stellar in scenes with Shannon where you understand her language and why she do what she does. She is clear on when to speak, look, react and act in certain parts where they are happy or sad or angry over other that are clearly visible for the audience to process. The movie is brilliantly directed and is visually stunning. This is not a big movie with big effects but a very smaller one and for it to use the limited budget to give those effects is just a prove of how feel can CGI act in a movie and how worse it gets when the movie depends on it almost entirely. Cinematography and everything technical is just perfect. You may find it a but repetitive but that is not a big problem. This is a brilliant work and a movie that should be seen and appreciated.