Micheal Shanon is one of my favourite actors and it’s great to see him getting the lead in such a fantastic and complex movie as Take Shelter. Anyone who has seen Sam Mendes Revolutionary Road will recall Shannon’s scene stealing performance as the crazed son of Kathy Bates. He is an actor who really gets inside his character’s mind. And the mind Shannon gets inside in Take Shelter, Cutis’, is one that needs some serious care, attention and rather a lot of therapy. Without giving too much away Curtis starts experiencing a deluge of dreams, delusions and/or premonitions concerning a storm about to hit his town. These dreams are either a terrible warning, the first signs of hereditary mental illness or a reaction to the stress he has been under, or, perhaps, a combination of all three possibilities. With these possibilities weighing heavy on Curtis we get to see the very best of Shannon’s acting abilities, and he gives one of the finest performances of the year. It’s a real actors workshop going on. You can’t take your eyes off of him.
The director, Jeff Nichols, handles the apocalyptic-world’s-going-to-end genre in a way I’ve not seen before, it’s incredibly engaging and deep. It doesn’t offer up answers or a tidy conclusion, if anything you’re left with more questions by the end of the film than you had two thirds of the way through it. It encompasses many interesting elements, from the existence of a god right through to what it means to be a father/husband/son and onto the difficult issue of mental illness. I’m really quite shocked that films such a The Descendants, Moneyball and Hugo can be showered with Oscar nominations, but films like Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene – which ask difficult questions of the viewer and make for great, captivating cinema – are criminally snubbed. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to see such accomplished films ignored in favour of the established, bankable directors/actors as it happens almost every year now….
Marks out of ten – Eight