A crumbling mind or a crumbling sky?
By Alien de Jour/New York
This fascinating film could be what some people would describe as an imminent prophecy of a soon to come catastrophe. The decision we make of believing in it, or not, will determine our destiny.
That’s what, this seemingly new director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, 2007), is trying to tell us with Take Shelter. A confrontation of a man against nature, or against man itself.
I must say, it disappointed me a little bit: it made me think something completely different than what it actually is. And I don’t mean a distractive plot which turns out to be even more amazing than what you expected; but instead, it was completely the opposite, it is misleading. What I expected before entering the theatre was more appealing to me than what it actually happened. Cutting to the chase, it deceived me, and I did not like that at all.
Don’t get me wrong, since the minute the film started, it caught my attention. It opens with an image of Michael Shannon’s character standing in his backyard. There’s a storm. He’s slowly getting soaked with this thick and brown liquid, which obviously is not normal rain. The sky is covered with black clouds and what seems to be a tornado.
We follow the story of Curtis, a family man. He’s got a pretty good life, the life that most men would like to have: a kind wife, (Samantha, played by the up and coming actress Jessica Chastain) and a beautiful daughter (Hannah, played by Tova Stewart). Curtis is haunted by a dark past in his family: his mother suffered from schizophrenia, and now, there’s a big chance that he’s starting to go through the same process. He starts having these weird and violent dreams that keep him from resting every night. And who’s been sleep deprived before has an idea of what happens after a couple of days: he gets snappy, cranky, and starts doubting if the dreams he’s experiencing are only that. His whole routine gets affected by the idea of this apocalyptic storm, which, he is certain, is coming.
Throughout the movie, we see him, concentrating all his energy in building a shelter in the back of his house. He manages to illegally get all the equipment from the construction company he works at. And ultimately gets fired for this same reason. He jeopardizes his marriage and the future of his deaf daughter. And most importantly, his sanity. Looking for help with different doctors, and hiding everything from his wife -even when he wakes up one morning having peed on his bed- he keeps it to himself and drowns in his own desperation of slowly thinking he’s going mentally ill. Only one thing gives him relief and keeps him strong: the building of the shelter.
Take Shelter is a voyage through a man’s fight against his world, taking us with him, experiencing the horror towards what is unknown -that, being inside of him, or somewhere out there. An official selection of Sundance and Toronto’s Film Festival, winning the Critic’s price in Cannes, Take Shelter is a must-see.