Pretty Perfect: Take Shelter (2011) (No Spoils)

Instead of blogging about some of the other impressive films I’ve seen recently like 50/50, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Warrior, Real Steel and A Separation – I am going to wax lyrical about this indie masterpiece which stars an almost always impeccable Michael Shannon and the gorgeous Jessica Chastain.

Despite the drama making an impact at the Cannes Film Festival last year, the 2011 Jeff Nichols-directed movie has been pretty much ignored by the wider public so I’m gonna write about it.

The flick centers on blue-collar man Curtis (Shannon) his wife Samantha (Chastain) and their kid. Coming from a background of mental illness Curtis fears the worst as he is assailed by visions and dreams foretelling the end of the world. As a result of these violent premonitions, the man’s world begins to crumble around him with his helpless family having to stand by and watch.

There is a particular scene in which Curtis breaks down in front his family and friends in a canteen. Michael Shannon shines here…strange how the film got completely overlooked at the Academy Awards.

Some have said the film unravels quite slowly, and some have expressed disappointment at the ending. But I have to say that I was insanely impressed by the psychological maze the film creates; having a viewer believe the movie about one thing when it’s not. I also thought the ending was not as ambiguous as some have made it out to be despite what director Nichols says:

“It’s specifically designed to be ambiguous. That really riles some people and some people really love it. What’s funny and interesting to me — and not to sound too cocky about it, but I really do think it worked — is everybody talks about the specifics of what’s happening in that scene. And to me, the specifics don’t matter that much. And I’ll explain. 

What is happening, what is going to happen, all that is just fun to talk about. But what’s important to me is that these two people are on the same page and are seeing the same thing. There’s several interpretations of where they’re at. And that’s great. But as long as they’re seeing the same thing I think there is a resolution and the possibility of hope in the film.”

Go see!


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