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Take Shelter (2011)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 51,799 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 203 user | 338 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Hannah
...
...
Nat
...
Cammie
Ron Kennard ...
Russell
Scott Knisley ...
Lewis
...
Jim
...
Special Ed Teacher
Sheila Hullihen ...
Woman in Road
John Kloock ...
Man in Road
Marianna Alacchi ...
Bargain Hunter
Jacque Jovic ...
News Anchor
Bob Maines ...
Walter Jacobs
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Storyline

Curtis, a father and husband, is starting to experience bad dreams and hallucinations. Assuming mental illness, he seeks medical help and counseling. However, fearing the worst, he starts building an elaborate and expensive storm shelter in their backyard. This storm shelter threatens to tear apart his family, threatens his sanity and his standing in the community, but he builds it to save his family's life. Written by napierslogs

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

10 November 2011 (Croatia)  »

Also Known As:

U zaklon  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$52,041 (USA) (30 September 2011)

Gross:

$1,729,969 (USA) (16 March 2012)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the DVD commentary, Michael Shannon points out that the pills that Curtis takes are actually mint-flavored Tic Tacs. See more »

Goofs

Curtis and Shannon live in LaGrange, Ohio. However, Curtis's truck has Erie County tags on its license plates. LaGrange is in Lorain County, one county to the east. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Curtis: [to daughter] No, no, no. Don't feed the dog, darling.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Brows Held High: Melancholia (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Shelter
Written & Performed by Ben Nichols
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Challenging but supremely suspenseful character-driven drama
3 November 2011 | by (IL, USA) – See all my reviews

When done right, few tales are more riveting than a person's descent into madness. Alfred Hitchcock proved this time and time again and Jeff Nichols reinforces it in "Take Shelter," a film likely to have been lauded by the master of suspense himself. Anchored by the performances of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, "Shelter" broods and festers but ultimately thrives on the brink between buildup and utter chaos.

Shannon, far from a household name but a favorite of cinephiles since his head-turning supporting role in "Revolutionary Road," stars as Curtis, a construction worker and father living in a rural town with his wife, Sam (Chastain), and their young daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart). Their daughter has developed extreme hearing loss and Curtis' job provides them the benefits necessary to afford cochlear implants, but Curtis' recent slew of horrifically real nightmares seems to be the real issue here.

In his dreams, Curtis experiences premonitions of a near-apocalyptic storm that includes odd bird flight formations, motor-oil-like rain, and twisters, and appears to make everyone that shows up in his dreams eerily violent from his dog to complete strangers. The resulting paranoia and occasional physical side affects leads Curtis to seek medical attention, but also to start renovating the storm cellar in his backyard should his visions come true.

The question of whether Curtis is a prophet of sorts or just mentally disturbed drives the film — not much else does. Nichols tells this story largely through a series of character snapshots depicting Curtis riding the ups and downs caused by these nightmares. A few key moments boil the story to a point, namely a riveting scene when Curtis loses it a social luncheon, but the pensive script withholds from us straight through the end like a well-trained indie film.

As we go deeper and deeper with Curtis — and eventually Samantha and Curtis' best friend/co-worker Dewart (Shea Whigham) — we do learn some key details about Curtis' medical history that shed light on the situation, but even in the midst of fact, Nichols never gives us the satisfaction of arriving at any concrete conclusion about his predicament.

With the weight of an immensely introverted character dealing with a mental struggle placed squarely on his shoulders, Shannon proves why you'll only see him with more and more frequency in the future. He makes sure we care about what happens to Curtis, but beyond that he slips back and forth between deserving sympathy and deserving skepticism. He is not simply some Jobian character to whom bad things are happening, and this makes his challenge all the more challenging for the viewer. Credit as well to Nichols for crafting a protagonist far from the norm.

The winner of 2011′s most ubiquitous actress award, Chastain, gets the more alpha-type role instead. She's the good-hearted, open and loving type driven entirely by logic and unafraid of confrontation. Many will identify more with Samantha as a result, which adds a layer of complexity to the film to say the least.

"Take Shelter" offers compelling character-driven suspense, though at times it will try your patience. If you can chalk that up to quintessential indie filmmaking, then by all means do and enjoy this complex and challenging character portrait all the more for it. However, the real thrill of this type of film is that at any moment the bottom might drop out on the entire story (aka the $%&+ might hit the proverbial tornado); the difference between liking that and loving it is accepting when it doesn't.

~Steven C

Check out my site, moviemusereviews.com


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