Take Shelter (2011) Review

Take Shelter 

Release Date: November 10, 2011

Director: Jeff Nichols

Stars: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham

Runtime: 120 min

Curtis (Michael Shannon) is a loving father and husband, who works as a construction worker. At the age of thirty-five, he begins experiencing horrible dreams and frightening hallucinations. He automatically assumes he has a mental illness, mostly because his mother is a paranoid schizophrenic, and searches for help from doctors and counselors. He fears the worst of a possible impending disaster, and builds a storm shelter in his backyard. In the process, it starts affecting his family life, work life, social standing, and his own sanity.

Curtis’ family life can get a little rough. They’re having trouble with getting some insurance money, and have been line for it for a long while. They really want this insurance coverage because their daughter is deaf, and the surgery is for a cochlear implant, so she may hear again. This definitely adds layers to Curtis, and his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain). They are definitely family-oriented. Sometimes they seem to struggle with funds, because Samantha only sells knick knacks like sweaters and stuff that she knits over the week. But, Curtis seems to be the big bread-winner, and they aren’t poverty-stricken or anything.

They live out in a small country town that definitely has a strong community vibe, so when everyone gets news of Curtis building a storm shelter in his backyard, they don’t react too kindly.

There are some impressive visuals, especially for a film that only had a budget of $5 million. The cinematography is great, and it really is a fine B-film thriller. Sometimes, it feels a lot more like a dramatic experience, because in some areas a lot of stuff doesn’t happen. When stuff does happen, though, it is pretty exciting. It’s a little slowly paced in some areas, but that’s whatever. I don’t think this film has really ever of a climax. Either that, or they’re really against it. I usually don’t really like ambiguistic endings, but for this one, I didn’t overly mind. This film was just so well done.

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain really do deliver stellar performances. This is really a fine independent drama thriller. One of the things I love about independent films is that the performances can get so genuine, that I just forget it’s a film. It turns into a great art. Michael Shannon really did deserve a Best Leading Actor nomination.

Some of the scenes are a little mediocre, but others are just really great and memorable.

The family drama of it all is nice, and the story can be really memorable. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, it can take a turn in an opposite direction. It really does make for a great experience.

Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon and Natasha Randall star in this film.

The cast really delivers in this. Michael Shannon gives us his most powerful performance to date. The story is really original, it has the tendency to get dark and haunting,  and the visuals are really impressive. Take Shelter makes for a great experience, that may be disliked because of the anti-climactic ending and slow execution, but it still can be really exciting. It is the best independent film (I’ve seen) of 2011.


6 thoughts on “Take Shelter (2011) Review

  1. Good review Daniel. Pretty much we have our normal premise of a guy losing touch with reality, but plays out in a way that keeps you guessing and guessing until that final, beautiful shot. One of my favorites from last year believe it or not.

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