A sheriff sees his state senate bid slide out onto the ice when his daughter begins to date the son of a charming but psychologically disturbed woman with whom the sheriff has engaged in a two-decade-long affair.
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Set in the world of mega-churches in which a former Deadhead-turned-born again-Christian finds himself on the run from fundamentalist members of his mega-church who will do anything to protect their larger-than-life pastor.
Young American ballerina enrolls in a prestigious ballet school in Hungary. She suddenly becomes inexplicably obsessed with Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and her personality completely changes. A young man in love with her investigates.
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An ominous disaster forces five survivors to wait out nuclear winter in a secret underground bomb shelter. With limited supplies and nowhere else to go, they struggle against the clock, ... See full summary »
Adam C. Caudill
Michael Patrick Lane,
Paul Bettany decided to film Jennifer Connelly after his experience with giving a homeless person a $20 bill. The scene, in the beginning, shows Connelly at an angle that would be from her perspective, as opposed to seeing the full frame with people giving her money. This is because Bettany gave a homeless man a $20 bill while walking into a store, received thanks from the man, and walked out to see the man put out his hand again. When Bettany told the man he had just given him $20, the man said, "Oh, that was you," to which Bettany realized a perfect frame would not be the whole picture but rather what is in front of them. See more »
When Tahir pulls Hannah off the fence on the bridge and they both struggle on the ground, in the far away shot his arm is around her neck, but in the next instant in the closeup shot his arm is around her chest/torso. See more »
As Paul Bettany's directorial debut, Shelter misses the head but hits the heart thanks to the solid performance of real life spouse Jennifer Connelly.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New York? A vibrant cityscape? Glitz and glam? Written, produced and directed by Paul Bettany, Shelter is a bleak reminder that even the greatest cities in the world can be extremely unforgiving if time and destiny dictates it.
So it is with Tahir (Anthony Mackie), a Nigerian Muslim with an expired visa, and Hannah (Jennifer Connelly), a suicidal heroin junkie. As an illegal immigrant, Tahir cannot seek communal shelter so makes do by scavenging through trash and busking on plastic buckets. When they meet and eventually fall in love, we learn that one is the victim of circumstance and the other by choice. They have different beliefs owing to different backgrounds but they find dependence and strength in each other. He will get her through her drug addiction and reconciled with her estranged family. She will become the only source of redemption for his violent past. Through drip-fed sympathy we feel their anguish, and just when we think it can't get any worse, Bettany settles for none less than a grim ending, but not before forcing Hannah and Tahir through increasingly stomach churning situations.
Shelter could have been set in any city but Bettany's story is juxtaposed between New York's opulence and rock bottom poverty. In some ways it is dedicated to the couple who lived outside their Manhattan residence but in many ways it is an eye opening account of a worst case scenario that could befall anyone. It's a dark shade of New York (or any other first world city) we either don't see or choose not to, and that's all the more reason why this story had to be told. But in doing so, Bettany's approach is depressing, repulsive and even melodramatic. If such is the intended effect, Shelter has a lot of it and that's largely due to Connelly's solid performance in portraying the plight of a woman who has nothing left, and because she has nothing left, will do anything to survive. Connelly also looks the part, with bones and veins sticking out of what looks like a malnourished frame. On the other hand, Mackie is either miscast or isn't given much to work with. Besides his faltering Nigerian accent, I can't imagine how his character is so well built for a hungry hobo; unless of course, the physique he has in this film is a fundamental requirement that runs alongside his characters in Marvel superhero films.
While there are other questions that go unanswered, including debatable motives from certain characters, a lot of energy is focused on the pathetic situation of a homeless individual. There's no doubt that this is the real world and that poverty can be as devastating as cancer. But even while Bettany's subject matter is loud and clear, his application of Murphy's Law gives away towards a predictable ending with even more melodrama. Overall, you could call it a sophomore effort but there is also every reason to believe that this isn't a directorial attempt for the heck of it. As a first attempt for an actor-turned-director, Bettany gives us a powerful film that hits the heart despite aiming for the head. I sincerely hope there's more where this came from.
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