Take Shelter

DRAMA; 2hr 1min

STARRING: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain

Storm clouds: Chastain and Shannon

Stormy weather looms large in Take Shelter — apocalyptic, tantrum-throwing deluges that haunt the nightmares of Ohio driller Curtis (Shannon). On the surface, everything is cosily prosaic: Curtis and his warmhearted wife, Samantha (Chastain), have a little girl who is deaf (Tova Stewart as Hannah) and a placid daily routine. But when his terrifying dreams, in which he and Hannah are violently attacked, begin to bleed into waking visions that only he can see, Curtis starts to question his sanity. Is he crazy — his mother is schizophrenic, which further rattles him — or are his visions prophetic?


If a definition of mental illness is solitary entrapment in a horrifying parallel reality, then Curtis could indeed be in trouble. Phenomenally portrayed by Revolutionary Road powerhouse Shannon, he is also a self-contained man who finds that fear difficult to articulate. His phobic push to protect his family by rashly building a storm shelter strains his marriage, alienates his workmates and leaves him paranoid and frightened. Handled by writer-director Jeff Nichols with ominous deliberation, the aftermath braves ambiguous territory, where perception is a double-edged and lacerating sword.