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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Take Shelter Movie Review - Jessica Chastain

Curtis(Michael Shannon) and his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), live a settled down, rural, blue collar life with their young daughter. Curtis begins experiencing intense nightmares that seems to suggest the end of the world. Are these dreams real or are they early signs of mental illness?

The pace, setting, style and atmosphere of "Take Shelter" reminded me so much of M. Night Shyamalon's "Signs" (Mel Gibson) that I jumped up and checked IMDB to see if Shyamalon wrote the film. It turns out Shyamalon had nothing to do with this movie. Jeff Nichols wrote and directed but the film's rural setting, slow suspense, apocalyptic signs and family-centric plot all smack of "Signs" I even thought there was a strong resemblance between Michael Shannon's character, Curtis, and Joaquin Phoenix's character Merrill, in "Signs"

Take Shelter would have been better suited as a television mini series rather than a movie. Like most television shows that revolve around family, much of the tension of Take Shelter centers on one character, in this case the father, Curtis, struggling to communicate his problems to the rest of the family. This lack of information leaves the family bewildered and on edge. I see this dilemma every time I turn on a TV program. Next time you watch a television program that focuses around a family keep an eye out for this. The classics like "All in the Family" and "Everyone Loves Raymond" are perfect examples but there are plenty more as these themes permeate so many other shows. Decent, cookie cutter stuff for TV but no so good for a movie.

What is especially troubling about the tight lipped Curtis is that I can't find any reason for his secrecy. His wife is loving and caring. I am certain that she would be eager to support her husband with any confession. His daughter is too young to understand his problems, so there's no issue there, plus, she's deaf.

The acting would be terrific for television but it feels a little stiff for a movie. Michael Shannon is believable enough as the husband, Curtis, but his presence is a little too monotone. It made me wonder how Curtis could have ever kicked up enough personality to marry such a beautiful wife.

Shea Wigham and Jessica Chastain are slightly better but their roles feel a little stunted as well. It is as if there was little chance for rehearsal and retakes, again, like a TV program, but we know better as months were dedicated to this feature length film.

The suspense scenes were too long. These scenes relied too much on time to build the tension and because of this I was usually able to figure out what would happen next.

I thought the ending was logical enough. So logical it actually surprised me. Then there was a twist to the 'surprise' ending. Twists usually come out of nowhere and give the audience something to talk about but this twist made the ending predictable and left me confused.

Needless to say I wasn't crazy about this movie. If you are a big fan of "Signs" you might find Jeff Nichol's "Take Shelter" film to be a distant runner up and worthy of seeing. Otherwise, skip this one and check out something else.



120 Minutes

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