Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Friday, 28 October 2011 00:00

A Psyche Unravels in 'Take Shelter'

collider.com collider.com
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

Beginning with the prospect of an eerie, menacing storm, Take Shelter finds Curtis LaForche in a quizzical state of apprehension facing the ominous clouds. His puzzled, uneasy wariness will increase as nightmares intrude into his sleep and hallucinations populate his waking hours. Is he exhibiting the early signs of paranoid schizophrenia, as his mother did in her mid-30s?

Writer/director Jeff Nicholls suggests other possibilities as well. Is Curtis suffering from intense anxiety, the stress that comes with an six-year-old daughter who's deaf, a wife who sells her hand-stitched goods at fairs to have a few extra dollars, and whose job pressures seem to mount? Nicholls knows we can all relate in some way to such fears. In addition, Curtis reacts compassionately to the evening news report of a chlorine spill that kills several people, and there are those periodic storms and tornadoes that threaten those who life in flat northern Ohio.

I'm of two minds about Take Shelter because Nicholls can't make up his mind. I so wish he had because the most intense, recognizable drama lies embedded in Curtis' apprehension about his good life in jeopardy. When he can't handle his nightmares and reaches out to doctors and counselors for help, I'm rooting for him.

The periodic times director Nicholls starts throwing in cheap horror film tricks for shock effects, he distracts from the truly engrossing question: is this what it feels like to be inside the ordinary individual as he or she becomes mentally unstable? That's the intriguing issue, and it's a shame Nicholls didn't trust it instead of manufacturing drama or playing for ambiguity. The final scene, that I won't reveal, offers an especially disappointing waffling instead of a firm commitment and assertion of closure.

The actors are up to the challenge without phony frights. As Curtis, Michael Shannon slowly comes unraveled emotion by emotion, though his hunched over, motionless poses become tiring. As his wife Samantha, Jessica Chastain is solid—believable, loving, alarmed, and understandably frightened in many ways by her husband's erratic behavior. Late in the film, Chastain gives a phenomenally nuanced performance in reaction to Curtis' meltdown.

Sound designer David Wingo knows that playful, childlike music adds dread. And Adam Stone's cinematography effectively depicts claustrophobia as well as fear facing a menacing panorama. So, despite its faults, Take Shelter is provocative and haunting. At a Landmark Cinema.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr
KDHX Blog

Local Artist Spotlight

KDHX Recommends

April
Friday
25

KDHX Presents Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Metro Youth Program

KDHX presents Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Metro Youth Program April 25 and 26 at The Stage at KDHX. Information and reservations available at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis online.   Modeled after a similar...


April
Friday
25

Trampled Under Foot

For tickets and info, Old Rock House online.


April
Friday
25

John McEuen and John Carter Cash and Family

KDHX welcomes John McEuen and John Carter Cash to The Sheldon, April 15th. For tickets and information, sheldonconcerthall.org.


Online Users

5 users and 6669 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook