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Take Shelter - a storm is coming

Sharmini Brookes
04/10/2012 10:53:21

Artslink.co.za News
Sharmini Brookes: A storm brews menacingly in the wide Ohioan sky: is it a real storm or only in the mind’s eye of Curtis LaForsche? - Or something else altogether.

Curtis La Forsche (played by Michael Shannon with the same desperate intensity as he did in Revolutionary Road) is working on an outdoor drilling contract with a tight schedule and no security. He believes a storm like no other is approaching and feels compelled to build an underground shelter in his yard to protect his family from this impending doom. Back home, his wife (Jessica Chastain) and sensorially-challenged young daughter watch his mood and health deteriorate with anxiety and growing anger as he jeopardises the home they live in to secure a loan for the building of the shelter.

Impending doom is the Zeitgeist. Think climate change doom mongering, misanthropic Malthusianism about population growth, the lone wolf terrorist with no particular agenda, the credit crunch, the banking crash, the double dip recession and the threat of repossession after the mortgage collapse. We seem to live in a time when we all want to batten down the hatches and curl up somewhere safe until it’s all over. So we empathise with Curtis while at the same time are left wondering if this response is really rational. The discovery of a schizophrenic mother in a home adds to our sense of disquiet. Writer-director Jeff Nicholls taps into our intuitive fears and maintains this wonderful ambiguous tension throughout the film, never descending to the polemic of a definite solution.

I was reminded of Rod Serling’s 1959 Twilight Zone series but whereas those short black and white episodes were only 30 minutes long this film runs for 2 hours and may feel a tad overdrawn towards the end but one feels compensated for by the panoramic backdrop of the mid-west with its rolling fields and the drama of an unfolding storm in a turbulent sky.

Sharmini Brookes
freelance writer
011 706 0373
078 477 6938
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