Friday, October 12, 2012

Take Shelter (2011)

Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) can’t escape the haunting visions of an approaching apocalyptic storm. During his dreams, Curtis is threatened and attacked by people, who are close to him, and Curtis’ strange behavior in real life begins to raise some serious questions. Fearing the worst, Curtis frantically begins to work on a storm shelter in his backyard. Curtis wants to protect his family, but his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain) doesn’t like the idea of “wasting money on a stupid tornado shelter.” Curtis seeks psychiatric help, but at the same time, he continues to gather supplies (canned foods, gas masks, lanterns, etc.), because in Curtis’ mind, the threat of the devastating storm is still a realistic possibility. Ensuring the safety of his wife and their young, deaf daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart) is Curtis’ main priority. Curtis will risk everything for their protection, but first, he must convince Samantha to believe the serious nature of his dreams.

I had some high expectations for this film, and Take Shelter did deliver. Taker Shelter provides an excellent mixture of terror and drama, and you can really feel the impending doom throughout this film. This film delivers a powerful emotional punch, the awe-inspiring visuals are breathtaking, and Take Shelter is easily one of the best films in 2011.

The acting in this film is superb, and Michael Shannon was fantastic as the lead man. I first noticed Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road, and I’ve been a big fan of his work ever since. Michael Shannon is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood, and his outstanding performance really was the driving force behind this film. Curtis LaForche is a disturbed man, who’s losing his mind. Curtis was alone. Nobody wanted to believe his warnings of the dangerous storm. Curtis was afraid of what might happen, if the storm actually hit. He was afraid of himself, and his fears destroyed the relationships with those closest to him. Curtis endures a serious downward spiral, and I really wanted to feel for this character, because he didn’t have any control over his terrifying dreams and hallucinations. Curtis might have lost his grip on reality, but you could also see a caring father, who wanted to protect his daughter, and Curtis didn’t want to lose Samantha. And Shannon was able to bring intensity to this character, and he was able to show some real rage during his temper tantrum towards the end of this film. Curtis’ internal struggle was the focal point of Take Shelter, and Shannon was very convincing here.

Also, I can’t forget about Jessica Chastain. Chastain delivered another very solid performance in this film, and this woman should’ve won some sort of award for the best breakout star in 2011. Chastain received an Oscar nomination for her work in The Help, and Chastain did deliver a handful of impressive performances last year. Chastain continues to surprise me, because she seemingly came out of nowhere. Chastain has become a recognizable face, she’s one of Hollywood’s more talented young actresses, and she does have a very bright future.

The cast did a fine job with the acting, and Jeff Nichols directing was just great. Nichols also wrote the screenplay for Take Shelter, and he was able to provide the perfect unsettling atmosphere for this film. Nichols was able to enhance the dread and terror, and his precise directing did provide some excellent tension and intensity for this film. I’ll admit, I’m not familiar with Jeff Nichols, and this is the first film I’ve seen from him. But I loved every second of Take Shelter, and I will follow this man’s work from now on.

Also, and I don’t usually do this, but David Wingo deserves his fair share of recognition for Take Shelter’s soundtrack. Wingo did create some outstanding scores for this film, but the main score used throughout this film is just amazing. The main score for Take Shelter can bring out feelings of wonder, and this score did make every other scene feel more captivating. The “Take Shelter” score is frequently used throughout this film, but it never annoyed me. The moods constantly change, but the “Take Shelter” score always fits within the context of the different scenes in this film. Wingo did create a memorable score for Take Shelter, and this score has been stuck in my head for days:

The Academy gave Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close a Best Picture nomination, but they snubbed this? Really??? Take Shelter was more than worthy for a spot in the Best Picture category, and Nichols wouldn’t have been a bad choice for the Best Director category. And no Best Actor nominations for Michael Shannon? As I said before, Shannon is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood, and he did deliver a great performance in this film. I won’t complain about a Jessica Chastain snub, because she did receive recognition at the Oscars for her work in The Help. She nailed the Celia Foote character, and she did deliver the better performance in this film, so there’s nothing to complain about. Still, Take Shelter deserved a few Oscar nominations. I might have been able to understand a few snubs here and there, but Take Shelter didn’t receive ANY Oscar nominations. Not one. It’s asinine, and Take Shelter deserved better. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was not an Oscar worthy film, but this melodramatic piece of trash became a sentimental favorite for a lot of critics. Take Shelter could’ve been a legit Best Picture contender, and Michael Shannon could’ve provided some serious competition in the Best Actor category. I have a short list of films that didn’t deserve the snub treatment at the Oscars last year, and Take Shelter is one of them.

Final Rating: 10/10

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