Take Shelter DI
2011 Running time: 120 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3
KA Take Shelter

Synopsis

In this apocalyptic drama, Boardwalk Empire star Michael Shannon plays a blue collar Ohio father who interprets his vivid nightmares of violent storms and downpours of oil as a sign that the end is nigh. Single-mindedly, he sets out to save his uncomprehending wife (Jessica Chastain) and deaf daughter from the end of days by sprucing up his tornado shelter. Director Jeff Nichols has fashioned a tense psychological tale that touches on America's paranoid terror of the unfamiliar.

Director

  • Jeff Nichols

Cast

  • Michael Shannon

  • Jessica Chastain

  • Tova Stewart

  • Shea Whigham

  • Katy Mixon

Review

Construction worker and blue collar father Curtis LaForche (Shannon) may not have it all...but what he does have is pretty good.

He's got a steady job working alongside his buddy Dewart (Whigham), a happy marriage to Samantha (Chastain) and a comfortably modest house in which to bring up his vivacious daughter Hannah (Stewart).

In fact, Dewart is given to comment: "You've got a good life, Curtis, I think that's the best compliment you can give a man: take a look at his life and say, 'That's good'."

However, in his mind, the charmed life could be unravelling for Curtis. In a series of increasingly brutal dreams, he sees the harbingers of a biblical-style apocalypse - vicious, water-spewing twisters, showers of oily amber rain and ghostly figures trying to wrench his daughter from his car.

Rattled, he's unable to explain these disturbing visions away with a rational psychological diagnosis (his mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia) and sets himself on a course of action dictated by his apocalyptic fever dreams.

His pet dog is corralled behind wire after Curtis dreamed it bit his arm and - most worryingly - he embarks on a manic project to extend the old tornado shelter in his backyard, including the "borrowing" of his firm's heavy machinery to dig a vast hole for a vast cargo container/extension to the bunker.

Bizarrely, he also seeks psychiatric help from the frazzled local social services while persevering in his Noah-like contingency plan to save himself and his family from the imagined destruction.

Director Jeff Nichols' Shotgun Stories, starring Shannon, was one of the unsung glories of 2007 but this is an altogether more ambitious affair, a darkly dazzling storm cloud of film-making, skewering America's nameless dread of anything it doesn't understand. Which is quite a lot.

Strong support comes from the ubiquitous Chastain as his angry, loyal wife and Boardwalk Empire colleague Whigham as his betrayed best buddy. But the stage is really Shannon's...and his rises to deliver a towering performance.

At more than two hours long, the narrative sometimes slumps with a loss of dramatic momentum and the ending is perhaps a little glib after the intellectually rich narrative that precedes it.

However, it's the collision of Shannon's reality and dementia that's the driving force propelling a drama that is dark with foreboding.

Nothing's as right as rain.