Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols – 2011) B+

I am not sure how I feel or what I think of the ending of Take Shelter. Is it literal? Is it another of Curtis’ dreams? Something else entirely? I’m leaning more towards that second explanation. Curtis is slowly losing his mind. It is a horrible thing to see a man descend slowly into the grip of mental illness and Michael Shannon portrays that perfectly. He’s solemn, quiet, with a face that seems to hold so much pain and tension. As the film and his vivid dreams progress his issues start bubbling to the surface and even though he knows there is a big chance he is going mad, he still acts on his “visions”. He gets obsessed with upgrading his tornado shelter, he alienates his friends and his wife. See, in case he is not going nuts, he wants to be ready for the End of the World! At least, I think that’s how he must be rationalizing his behavior. Jessica Chastain plays his wife. This actress had one hell of an awesome year in 2011 and this role might be her best yet. She plays Sam as a smart, loyal and very loving wife to Curtis. She does not abandon him and seems to be doing anything a reasonable person can do when they are concerned about the well-being of a loved one. Ultimately, whether Curtis’ dreams are real or not does not change the fact that to him they are. That makes Take Shelter a disaster movie with a unique point of view and some stellar performances.

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