With each subsequent role, Michael Shannon seemingly gets better and better. His latest film, Take Shelter, features the Oscar-nominated actor as an blue-collar, Ohio father and husband who begins to develop some mental issues. Issues such as he believes there is massive impending doom on the horizon. As his premonitions become more and more vivid, his mental state begins to adversely affect his family.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter is the definition of a slow and steady burn powered mostly by Shannon’s performance.

Though Take Shelter moves like molasses punctuated with moments of frightening intensity, it never loses its dramatic tension. Nichols’ script and direction bring the audience into Curtis’s mindset. Much as he feels frightened, the pacing and visuals build a continual anticipation. Is Curtis crazy? Is he a prophet? From the minute the film begins, the audience is left with an uneasy feeling and we can latch onto whomever we want, be it Curtis, his friends, his wife Samantha, played by Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life) or his deaf daughter, played by Tova Stewart.

However, while the film remains gripping throughout, when it was over I couldn’t help but be feel a little empty. Due to the pace of the film you have plenty of time to read into it. Is the film about a man worried about protecting his family? Male impotence? A microcosm for today’s society? Any of these readings are completely valid.

Take Shelter is expertly crafted, acted and while all the ideas are there, it feels a tad bit empty because it doesn’t quite give a hint as to what the filmmaker was trying to say. What the film means is totally up to you.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.

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