BY CLAIRE WARD-BEVERIDGE
DATE RELEASED: September 30, 2011
DATE WATCHED: January 14, 2013
WHY NOW? After seeing Zero Dark Thirty recently, I’ve been madly in love with Jessica Chastain and am working my way through her catalogue, as short as it is. I’d only seen Michael “frog eyes” Shannon in Revolutionary Road and he interested me–he seemed like a Peter Lorre type straight out of a Mercury Theatre production.
WHY NOT THEN? Aside from Drive, Melancholia and Young Adult, 2011 wasn’t really a great year for film. When something as insignificant as The Artist cleaned up at many of the awards ceremonies, I feel that I must’ve been a lot more invested in television that was going on at the time and didn’t give Hollywood’s output much thought.
Not to say that when I’d heard about Take Shelter I wasn’t interested at all–I’d heard good things from a few friends, and I liked the cast and the concept. Films that explore mental illness in an ambiguous way in terms of the main character tend to pique my interest, although they have a tendency to be very “on the nose” and clichéd, and this may have contributed to me being hesitant to see it.
- Some very high-calibre/high-drama acting from the two leads.
- Jessica Chastain looking terrified, concerned and stunning all at once.
- Serious chills–I had heard it described as a “drama-thriller” and thought, “Okay, I’m hoping for some pre-The Village-type Shyamalan spooks…”
- Michael Shannon to lose his SHIT over something. As I mentioned before, I’d only seen him in one film, but he definitely gives off a seething, smouldering vibe, as if he is on the brink of a fit of rage.
- Impressive meteorological effects.
WHAT I ACTUALLY GOT…
- A very sweet, fairly realistic relationship portrayed between Jessica Chastain and her young and (recently?) deaf daughter played by Tova Stewart–definitely some of the most charming/naturalistic moments in the film.
- Soundtrack by David Wingo–David Gordon Green’s pal/collaborator who seems to be heavily influenced by French composer Eliane Radigue and drone-based ambient duo Stars of the Lid.
- Laughs! Especially when ol’ Frog Eyes flails about in bed during nightmares, bleeds out of his mouth and just generally seems to be impersonating some sort of sea creature. Not expected, but warmly welcomed!
- Kathy Baker outshines everyone! Not really, but kind of. She plays Michael Shannon’s schizo mother living in some sort of assisted housing. She genuinely seemed pretty fried, I totally bought it.
- Shannon on the other hand, wasn’t so great in this. He was either brooding about something, staring off into the distance confusedly or flipping all over the place like a caterpillar covered in Raid.
- So many obvious plot points which I could see coming a mile away [note: spoiler ahead]: Oh, so Jessica Chastain is elated when they find some sort of insurance plan for her daughter’s health concerns? Let’s see how long it’ll take for Michael Shannon to get fired from his construction job.
- A twist ending! Sort of. Which I actually didn’t mind, somehow. It ends abruptly which I tend to like or at least accept over a drawn-out mess.
ONE NIGHT-IN STAND OR SECOND DATE POTENTIAL?
I honestly have no plans to ever watch this again. I found myself checking my phone a lot during some of the quieter scenes and I was in a quiet, darkened room with no distractions. If someone knows of any montages on YouTube of JUST the scenes where Michael Shannon seizes or freaks out during a night terror, link me please.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5U4TtYpKIc]
Claire Ward-Beveridge is a freelance writer & photographer who lives in North Parkdale, Toronto and her rattled brain. She loves Werner Herzog and depressing English dramas. Follow her @clairewarb.
If you liked this post, you might also like: