Take Shelter: Review

Sony Pictures Classics
Opens on 30 September in NY and LA
In select additional cinemas in October

11 522x222 Take Shelter: Review

Michael Shannon in TAKE SHELTER. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Writer/director, Jeff Nichols’ TAKE SHELTER was one of the most talked-about films at Sundance this year. In keeping with the vibe of the Park City selections, its story centers on a middle-income, middle-America family just trying to make it through the day.

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain portray Curtis and Samantha, a married couple with a young, hearing-impaired daughter named Hannah. Curtis spends his days as a crew chief for a sand-mining company while Jessica stays home to care for Hannah, picking up the odd job as a seamstress for friends and neighbors. Day in and day out, it’s pretty much the same. That is, until Curtis starts to have nightmares and hallucinations – visions of terrifying clouds and thick, filthy rain. It’s unclear whether these visions are extensions of the nightly news, the onset of mental illness or a true premonition of biblical proportions.

Curtis’s life falls apart as his mind runs away from him and Samantha tries to pull him back to the real life where they need him. What transpires is both a well-crafted family drama (Shannon gives one of the year’s best performances) and an intense psychological thriller the likes of which I’ve never seen. The film is a strange hybrid of a gritty Sundance drama and a Hollywood thriller that may even make you jump out of your seat – mainly because you don’t expect the horrors that pop out of the shadows.

TAKE SHELTER is an extraordinary and haunting piece of filmmaking. At 120 minutes, there are moments when the pacing could be a bit more snug, and you may even think – for a passing moment – that the final moments aren’t worth sticking around for. But let me tell you folks, this is a top-notch genre-bender that simply must be seen.

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Author: JP

JP SARNI is a producer and writer who holds a BFA in Media and Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. Producer credits include: "Heartland" (short / set to premiere at the 2007 San Francisco International Gay & Lesbian Fim Festival), "The Launch" (short), readings of the rock opera "Utah's Crying" under his M├ętropole Ink production entity, plus "Play Ball! A Trilogy of Baseball Films" (associate producer) and "Flashback" (producer / showcase production) for Weird Sisters. For two years, he worked as a producer and on-air reporter for SIRIUS Satellite Radio (on programs including "The Judith Regan Show"). He has just finished line producing the feature-length documentary, The Pennhurst Project, for Radioaktivefilm NYC (The Ground Truth), and will next be line producing Charles Forbes' Minor Gods for the Summer Play Festival at Theatre Row. Additionally, he has worked for legendary publicist Bobby Zarem, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and numerous film production credits, including: Alfie, WTC View, and the upcoming P.S., I Love You.

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