Take Shelter (2011) – Jeff Nichols (Friday’s Finest)

I saw Take Shelter a few times in the year it came out. I was roused by this highly original story and appreciated how it doesn’t play down to the audience and the acting is nuanced, but impactful. It explores the themes of masculinity, mental illness, and the lengths people go to protect the ones they love. The plot as outlined below drew me in from the get-go and escalates in tension until it reaches its ambiguous climax.

IMDB Storyline:

Curtis, a father and husband, is starting to experience bad dreams and hallucinations. Assuming mental illness, he seeks medical help and counseling. However, fearing the worst, he starts building an elaborate and expensive storm shelter in their backyard. This storm shelter threatens to tear apart his family, threatens his sanity and his standing in the community, but he builds it to save his family’s life.

Take Shelter written and directed by Jeff Nichols and starring the underrated actor Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. It premiered in January 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, and Sony Pictures Classics acquired rights to distribute the film in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. The film also screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the 50th Critics’ Week Grand Prix.

Take Shelter received critical acclaim. It has a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 168 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. The consensus states “Michael Shannon gives a powerhouse performance and the purposefully subtle filmmaking creates a perfect blend of drama, terror, and dread.
Michael Shannon purposely didn’t read up on mental illnesses before taking on the role as Curtis, as this is something the character himself knew little about. Also, in playing the role of Samantha, Jessica Chastain was paid just $100 per day.

Director Jeff Nichols reflected: “I had a very strict idea of what the end of Take Shelter was. I know exactly what happens, and it’s fascinating to see people respond to it in their own ways. The beautiful part of storytelling is that you’re not just telling people a story, they’re also telling you something about themselves too through their reactions. In that situation you’re in a conversation with your audience. I really can’t think of a more rewarding or fulfilling result for something you’ve written. It’s active, kinetic, and really humbling.”

1. Take Shelter – Wikipedia
2. Take Shelter – IMDB

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
2 comments on “Take Shelter (2011) – Jeff Nichols (Friday’s Finest)

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