Take Shelter is the down-to-earth story about how a man deals with potentially portentous dreams about an apocalyptic storm. As the dreams intensify, the main character Curtis tries to downplay them when discussing them with others like his wife, but also pays credence to them by preparing a heavy duty storm shelter. But what this film does so well is that just as Curtis isn’t sure about the nature of his dreams, we aren’t either. Is this a movie about looming Armageddon, or about mental illness?
The detriment yet brilliance of this movie comes in the way that the director Jeff Nichols is able to create an atmosphere of constant unease. This actually make sit a hard movie to watch at points as you will find your anxiety rise as Curtis makes his questionable decisions. But the skill involved in making you feel that can’t be discounted, and almost forces you to face that anxiousness and unease, which is no small feat for a film to actually pull off. It really is a meticulously crafted story which feels very authentic.
Take Shelter is also highlighted by two great performances. Michael Shannon really pulls off the role of a man who really feels lost with these visions he has. He makes Curtis relatable and makes us wonder if this could happen to us, and would we act differently? Jessica Chastain is also wonderful as Curtis’ wife who really struggles with her loyalty to her husband even though his actions are tearing them apart. These two work together so well so that we never feel like either is the villain, yet we sympathize with both.
There’s been some talk about the controversy of the ending an what it means, so I though I would give my thoughts. So I will issue a SPOILER ALERT from this point on. Some believed that the end storm wasn’t actually real, and it was simply the wife’s acceptance of his illness. Here’s my thoughts on the ending. The storm is real. This movie to me seemed to be about a man choosing to do what he believes is right even though it goes against social convention and scrutiny. I believe the ending is the vindication of his choices. SPOILER END
I’m going to give Take Shelter a 9/10.