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  • James Rutherford

'Take Shelter': An Urgent Psychological Thriller about a Man Beset by Apocalyptic Visions


Movie poster for the film Take Shelter starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain

“Take Shelter" (2011) is an urgent psychological thriller about Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) a rural Ohio family man beset by apocalyptic visions that increasingly impair relations with his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain), his deaf daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) and all of their surrounding friends and neighbors.


Driven by his escalating fear that a catastrophic event is soon to come, Curtis pours himself into building and fortifying a storm shelter in his backyard—causing enormous tension with the hesitant Samantha, in particular. When he loses his job and is advised by a counselor that he may be developing the same paranoid schizophrenia that afflicted his mother, the criticality of Curtis' mental state hits a crisis point just as ominous clouds begin to form on the horizon.


Written and directed by Jeff Nichols ("Mud", "Midnight Special") “Take Shelter” delivers a fiercely alarming “is-he-crazy-or-is-it-Armageddon” mystery elevated to an entirely new level by Nichols’ remarkable ability to steadily build dramatic tension to the point of full-on, nerve-wracking apogee. Credit as well to Shannon and Chastain, who deliver astounding and profoundly convincing performances in this lesser-known yet utterly brilliant modern masterpiece.

 

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