“You think I’m crazy? Well, listen up, there’s a storm coming like nothing you’ve ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.“
- Curtis LaForche
Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) keeps having pretty dark and apocalyptic types of dreams featuring motor oil and people near him becoming totally crazy, but he protects his family. His wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), is desperately seeking treatment for their deaf daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), and hopes he will help out. Curtis is becoming more and more distracted as the dreams continue, and eventually they spill over into his reality. He requests that his friend and colleague, Dewart (Shea Whigham), assist him with getting things together to build the shelter in his backyard as well as assist him in borrowing some work equipment.
Curtis sees a counsellor at a free clinic when he is worried that the dreams signify that he might be losing his mind. He is paranoid. His mother (Kathy Baker) is a paranoid schizophrenic, and got really bad when she was in her thirties, close to where he is now. Curtis starts spending a lot of money on the shelter, and returns the work equipment with no issues. Samantha is furious with him, and he is still reluctant to explain to her what is going on, simply trying to explain it away as a hobby/side project. Curtis asks his boss to shift Dewart to another site, saying that it is difficult to work with him. Curtis is overjoyed to hear that the doctors can operate on his daughter to try and get her hearing sorted, and he and his wife are elated. They are saving for a beach holiday, and Samantha is thankful that Curtis has such great health benefits from his job, giving them the opportunity to help their daughter.
Curtis is taking the incredibly expensive sedative that he was prescribed, and manages to take too much one night, hoping to stop the dreams. Samantha is now on to something going on. Eventually Curtis confides his fear to her, and she tries her best to be supportive. However, that soon ends when Curtis comes home with the news that he has been fired. Curtis’s boss tried to move Dewart, who was angered to hear he had become Curtis’s fall guy, and told the truth. He only gets two weeks unpaid leave, though Curtis is fired. Samantha is livid, seeing as they will no longer have the healthcare benefits required to help Hannah out.
Curtis takes out loans to get what he needs for the shelter, and spends all his time with it. Everything Curtis has grown comfortable with starts changing. His wife is edgy, though she sort of sees where he is coming from, he is guilty about his daughter, and the town thinks he has officially lost his marbles. Is Curtis losing his mind? Will a freak storm hit the town and vindicate his doomsday prophecies? Can he get the help that he needs to get his head right, if, indeed, there is anything to correct? Are they just crazy dreams, or is Curtis getting a look see into a possible future?
I score Take Shelter a 7/10. This was not a ground-breaking movie by a long shot and left me feeling a little let down at the best of times. Michael Shannon was fantastic to watch and played his character down to a tee. Jessica Chastain also impressed me in her role as Samantha. The movie felt very long, though it was not really a long film. In terms of watching a man dealing with the paranoia stemming from coming from a family of mental illness and his struggle to understand his current circumstances it was very interesting. The struggle he and his family went through to work it out and find a way to deal with it all was also very good. It just feels like after two hours no much happened, though the character portrayal was very good. The drama aspect was impressive, and played out rather well, greatly acted. I think a large part of this movie’s success leans strongly on the actors and their abilities. Also, the suspense was good, though sometimes I felt that it missed out on it a bit. I like how the story kept to what it was supposed to be about: Curtis, his family, and his paranoia at his situation. Not a bad watch, I just think I expected a little bit more from it all.