“Take Shelter” is a dark, absorbing, and almost tragic statement of how many of us pursue protection not only from natural forces, but from ourselves.
The shelter in this case is quite literally a storm shelter built in the southern Ohio plains. Jack (Michael Shannon) foresees in very scary, very troubling scenes an apocalypse of cataclysmic dimensions. He alone envisions this dark future, but it is enough that he risks everything to build a proper storm shelter.
The shelter is also a metaphor for the protection that Jack seeks to flee his own madness. Are all of these dreams and visions a product of his schizophrenia or does he have legitimate foresight?
The fact that Jack, his wife (Jessica Chastain) and young daughter (who is deaf) are all such good, well-meaning people, struggling to get by, only exacerbates the tension in the movie’s narrative.
Watching this film progress, you find yourself just clutched with anxiety over what is to become of these nice people. They are loving, yet collectively in the grasp of Jack’s illness – and Shannon is great in the role.
What does he see? What will he do next? Will he share his thoughts? How deep into this rabbit warren of different problems will he take his family?
The story is bound inextricably by these questions.
The answers all seem to focus on what really will happen when the “storm” comes. It does come, but it is not Jack who provides the answers. Not surprisingly, it is the women in his life who points him toward the light.
Having done so, and giving the audience a moment of respite, it is father and daughter who provide the movie’s twist in the end.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and long-time film-aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has shifted his focus to reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.