108- Take Shelter [7.5]

Curtis LaForche lives in a small Ohio town with his wife Samantha and six-year-old daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Money is tight, and navigating Hannah’s healthcare and special needs education is a constant struggle. Despite that, Curtis and Samantha are very much in love and their family is a happy one. Then Curtis begins having terrifying dreams about an encroaching, apocalyptic storm.

One’s exposure to depression, be it how it has effected someone they know or themselves, likely will play heavy into their emotional attachment to Take Shelter. The end of days looms heavy over the entire film, with a fairly simple parallel of Curtis’ (Michael Shannon, in my favorite performance of his thus far) crippling fears of life to the apocalypse. Though Take Shelter tackles these big ideas, it does so in a non-bloated fashion, thanks largely in part to the heavy focus on Curtis and his family; moreover, the whole thing feels rather minor despite the large scope.

For what I imagine is a rather small budget film, some of the awful CGI is forgivable. What I could have done without is the excessive amount of dream sequences, as the pattern became successively more easy to figure out, thus causing a loss of intensity that the earlier sequences had. All is forgiven for the crushing sequence in the storm shelter. Though one could argue the crescendo of Curtis losing it came a scene or two prior, Michael Shannon has a vulnerability so raw in the shelter that I can’t remember a finer performed scene in years. (Also, keep an eye on the lighting of that scene, which was really something special.)

Large parts of Take Shelter might not work for some. There were certainly elements I could’ve done without, but between the powerhouse performance given by Michael Shannon (with tremendous support by Jessica Chastain) and the execution of the third act, I’d certainly recommend giving Take Shelter a viewing.

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