Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Take Shelter, dir/wr. Jeff Nichols, st. Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain

Composer David Wingo's reverb-delayed music box phrases establish a truly unsettlingly eerie mood from the start in Jeff Nichol's introspective and inspirational litany to familial understanding, love and support. We have Curtis LaForche (Shannon on wonderful, tempestuous form) frightened that his apocalyptic visions are either the result of a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, or worse, they're premonitions of a very real future to come. The depiction of his dreams veer dangerously close at times to the jagged shoreline of conventional horror - the difference between waking up with a piece of Freddy Krueger's sweater in your hand and waking up with blood all over your pillow from biting your cheek in fear may be slight - but the physical realism the effect Curtis' nightmares have on him ground this film in a terrifying tangibility. The joy here though, is that nestling amongst the worry, confusion and alarm, there's also compassion, comfort and hope, culminating in an ending that's at once exhilarating and calmingly pacifying; I would proffer this film is not merely about confrontation with demons but about those who are closest to us in times of great physical and spiritual need. Take Shelter is as unnerving as it is moving and instructive.