Lazy Movie Review: Take Shelter

Premise:  Michael Shannon plays a man from Ohio who starts having nightmares about huge storms coming his way, so he gets a a little obsessive about expanding the tornado shelter in his backyard.  His wife doesn’t understand why he’s going crazy, and the whole ordeal begins to take a toll on his home life.  Is the movie just about the pains of having a mental breakdown, or is it actually about the end of the world…?  YOU DECIDE!


-The acting is perfect from the two leads.  Michael Shannon plays it pretty restrained with clenched fists for the most part, except for a scene when he violently explodes in rage (one of the best scenes in the movie).  There’s a notably dynamic range that makes his performance pretty brilliant.  Jessica Chastain is about as good as anyone can be as his worried wife.  Best redhead in Hollywood?  Maaaaaaaaaaaaybe?!

-It has a deliberately slow pace, but a fitting one.  It’s not exactly an action movie.

-The dream/hallucination/delusion sequences are cool, and not overdone.

-Plenty of natural tension.  It didn’t seem forced.  I was on the edge of my seat near the end of the movie.


-Probably could have lopped 15 minutes off it here and there.

-I’ve just sat here for 3 minutes thinking how to word this…  And I think I’ve failed.  I guess something about it just didn’t seem that spectacular about it overall.  Like it could have been a little more sensational.  Or maybe more frightening.  Or more visceral.  I don’t know.  The movie is missing one or more necessary adjectives.

Final Thoughts:  I liked the whole package of Take Shelter, but I didn’t love it.  It’s the kind of movie that I always argue there should be more of, but I feel it slightly missed the mark.  I hope you don’t take that the wrong way.  Take Shelter is a really good movie.  You should watch it.  It’s just not a *great* movie.  At least it has the kind of ambiguous ending that will get you talking afterwords.  Is it real, is it a dream?  What does one way or the other mean in terms of the rest of the movie that preceded it?  (Without spoiling it) I took it as what was happening was real, at least on my first viewing, and it slightly diminished what they tried to achieve with their mental illness angle.  Maybe that’s what I thought was slightly off…  yeah!  I need to rewatch it again sometime and see if my perception changes.  And I’d *like* to watch it again sometime, which is always the sign of a good movie.

8 out of 10

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