Saturday, 26 November 2011

Gimme Shelter

Cutis has a good life. According to his best friend Dewart anyway. What he doesn't know, however, is that Curtis has been having recurring nightmares about a coming Apocalypse. For the sake of his wife and deaf daughter, Curtis tries to keep the dreams under wraps. But when he starts building an underground storm bunker in the backyard, people begin to ask questions about his sanity.

Regardless of what the ending may or may not be, Take Shelter is a film about mental health. 90% of Curtis' conflict comes from within, bubbling away under the surface (with much credit due to Michael Shannon's performance). His character doesn't revel in being a visionary vessel, and is in fact ashamed of his gift - torn between being a good father/husband and preparing for apocalyptic doom.

With Curtis' mother having given in to mental health problems at a similar age, he seems convinced that his problems are mental, but still cannot deny what he sees. This deals with a really interesting question: Is self-awareness really enough to snap out of psychosis? Throughout the film, Curtis walks a lonely tight rope of sheer belief and self doubt.

It's a shame then that Shannon's performance isn't given a script with more conviction. The film does a great job of holding our sympathy with Curtis, even when he is seemingly throwing his life away. But the last 20 minutes makes a huge compromise on its premise - delivering mixed messages about what we've just seen over the last two hours.

Despite this, Take Shelter still provides a powerful lead performance and some fantastic visual elements, making it a no brainer for rental.

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