Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Sundance hit Take Shelter is a haunting slow-burner about a man trying to weather the storms from within and without. It exists at that rare cinematic nexus of emerging talents in front of and behind the camera. It’s the type of small film that deserves a bigger audience than it has thus far earned.
In the lead role of Curtis, Michael Shannon (currently mayor of creep city on Boardwalk Empire) builds upon his past typecasting in films like Revolutionary Road and My Son My Son What Have Yee Done? to fully inhabit a man at wit’s end. As his wife, Samantha, Jessica Chastain emerges from the dreamy otherworldliness of Malick’s The Tree of Life to portray a lovely down-to-earth young woman who fights with every fiber of her being to keep her family together even as she fears her husband is losing his mind. Shannon’s unnerving physical performance and average schlub personality is the perfect foil to Chastain’s girl-next-door beauty and gumption. Together they dance through Nichols’ quiet mind-field and let off tiny emotional explosions that could rattle the doors off a barn…or a storm cellar. Continue reading