TAKE SHELTER [2011] movie review

February 10, 2012 · Print This Article

I heard about the 2011 movie TAKE SHELTER because it appears as #5 on Roger Ebert’s Ten Best List.  I would not put it that high on my list, and probably not on it at all, but it is an effective drama that forces the viewer to slow down and stare at the screen as the main character, Curtis, does for there is often little dialogue and only visuals that may or may not be his delusions.

Curtis works for a drilling company, has a daughter who may have only somewhat recently become deaf and a faithful wife (you may recognize her from THE HELP) with crafts skills.  Nothing in his daily life would appear to be a cause for the onset of schizophrenia, even though he himself diagnoses himself with two of the five symptoms for it.  There is, however, a matter of genetics as his mother was diagnosed with exactly that condition right around Curtis’ current age.

He suffers from vivid nightmares that linger into his waking days.  Anything that appears in those dreams becomes estranged to him in waking life, to my dismay, even his loyal dog, Red.

Curtis soon begins to focus on expanding the storm shelter in his backyard, which to any outside observer is beyond all reason.  This is what the slow-paced, or rather deliberately paced, story moves toward, will there really be a great storm to somehow justify the building of the shelter?  Will the coming or absence of this great storm ultimately free Curtis from his delusions or cement them?

There is a very effective emotional payoff when Curtis is very clearly faced with the next step he must take.  The viewer can feel his fear, but also the support of his wife and daughter.  It is a powerful scene.  Thus, the final third of the movie provides a fitting, albeit still mysterious, ending to TAKE SHELTER.

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