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
On the DVD commentary, Michael Shannon and the director, Jeff Nichols, both clarify that the daughter was not supposed to have been born deaf but had become deaf a few years before the events of the movie due to an illness like meningitis. See more »
(at around 1 min) When Curtis is having a seizure on one scene the pillow is next to him with a big blood stain close to the clock. In the next scene when he sits up, the pillow is behind him towards the middle. This happens twice during that sequence. See more »
No, no, no. Don't feed the dog, darling.
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"Take Shelter" transports you to the world of Curtis and Samantha, a blue-collar couple with a deaf daughter. They live in rural Ohio. Curtis is an average, taciturn, down-to-earth man who supports his family by doing manual labour in the oil industry.
As the movie progresses, we see that Curtis is having frightening, unusually realistic dreams. These are not ordinary nightmares and they concern him greatly. He tries to cope with them as best as he can, but after a while he comes to realise they are a portent of some unknown disaster.
Curtis quietly does what he feels he needs to do to relieve his anxiety about this. Essentially, he starts getting ready for the disaster. Really ready. He can't hide all this for long though, so soon this problem overwhelms him and his family. His wife is shocked that he's spending money needed to help their deaf daughter.
Through it all we wonder how much Samantha can put up with. She's a no-nonsense woman, but she seems to love Curtis. And of course we wonder whether he's right. Is something big really going to happen? Or is it just a mental breakdown of some kind? (Like the one his mother had...) Most of us have, at one point or another, been vaguely anxious about what might happen in the future. But this movie takes us expertly to "dread", as if it were a place on the map. Something bad is going to happen. Dread is the opposite of hope really.
The sense of place and character development in this film are superb. The acting is also superb. The pace of the movie is slow, but that didn't bother me for some reason. Nor is there much plot development. Man has strange dreams. Man gets ready for the apocalypse. Family tries to cope. These themes reminded me of the madness of Richard Dreyfus in Close Encouters.
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