"Is anybody seeing this?" Curtis LaForche asks rhetorically as he watches a coming storm spew lightning bolts that rip through the Ohioan night sky. The question is why more theatres aren’t carrying this Oscar-worthy film so we can see exactly what Curtis is seeing (I drove to Madison to see it).
Michael Shannon plays Curtis LaForche, a dedicated family man. Curtis has a comfortable life with a young family. As a friend puts it, "You’ve got a good life, Curtis. I think that’s the best compliment you can give a man." Inexplicably, Curtis starts receiving nightly dreams of an advancing storm that brings tornadoes and a thick, brown rain. Worried for the safety of his family based on his vivid nightmares, Curtis builds out his derelict storm shelter.
But as Curtis begins to take the measures he deems necessary to protect his loved ones, his home and work life begin to come undone: He grows distant from his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), friends, co-workers and in some ways, himself. Curtis begins to wonder if his own mother’s paranoid schizophrenia has been passed on to himself. The question becomes clear: Does Curtis need to protect his family from whatever lies ahead, or himself?
No amount of words can be enough to praise Michael Shannon. Suffice to say, he’s my early (early) pick for Best Actor come February. Chastain is fabulous in the role as the strong wife. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her nominated come award season. The beauty of this film lies in its ability to blend genres: psychological thriller, family drama and supernatural horror. It does so seamlessly. This is largely due to Jeff Nichol’s sensational direction. The heartrending score is fantastic as well.
"Take Shelter" is one of the strongest American dramas that anyone will see all year.