Not many American films grab me, hold me tight (almost suffocating) and do not release me until well after the movie is over, as a matter of fact can’t recall one that did that to me. But now if you ask me which was the last American movie that kept me captive from beginning to end and beyond, easily will tell you that was Jeff Nichols visually amazing Take Shelter. Yes movie is visually fantastic but is not only a feast to your eyes kind of film as performances by lead actors are so good that make the story told and film as a whole a true intense quite complete cinematic experience.
As movie was in Cannes I knew that was a disaster movie but nothing more and strongly suggest you watch movie without learning much about story as I’m sure you will enjoy it more as Nichols is such an amazing storyteller that converted a very simple story into an intense human drama that many viewers and critics write so many different interpretations that I’ll give mine, so if you haven’t seen movie please skip the next paragraph or continue reading after watching film.
To me film tells a very simple story of a man downturn that takes him from being a very normal man living with a very normal family in a very normal community into the most confusing -for him, his family, his friends, his neighbors, and us his viewers- transformation. Story climax at the very end of movie is key to clarify all confusion, but instead of really clarifying makes confusion wider as opens doors to imagination, interpretation, objectiveness, subjective-ness, and many more qualitative adjectives that allows individuals to see whatever nightmarish vision of their own future fear the most. So read reviews and you will find many that believe story is a parable for what’s going on in USA and well, in many other countries in the world. In the end story could become very complex and layered or –as I saw it- so simple and direct that magnificently confuses. Sigh.
Was reading that Jeff Nichols is Terrence Malick student and surely can be seen in the magnificent visual narrative but none of Malick’s movies I have seen has a story like this one and more impressive, story is developed the way is done here. So if Malick is the teacher, then I’m afraid Nichols surpassed his teacher and with this film he’s starting the hard-to-transit road to become a world master filmmaker. Hope Nichols stays in that road and is not tempted to go back to more traditional American independent cinema.
Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain are the essence of this film and their performances are beyond impressive as not only each complements the other but one pulls the other to the front at the right moments. Most of their performances excellence comes from well delivered dialogues, but what impresses me the most is that they were allowed to act with expressions in deep silences and gee, they were really good. Chapeau Mr. Nichols.
Movie, director and actors have been collecting honors in this award season but none is as impressive as winning the top award at 2011 Cannes Semaine de la Ciritique; all honors are well-deserved but regret that Shannon is not Oscar nominated and most of all, that Jessica Chastain was not nominated for this movie where I know has a lead role, but then is common that lead roles are conveniently converted into supporting role to increase winning opportunities. Nevertheless Chastain should have been nominated for this movie more than any other she was in this year. Sigh.
Strongly recommend to watch this movie that I know could blow your mind but be aware that is NOT your typical American movie or your typical independent (indie) American movie, so you have to love great world-class cinema to enjoy a film that has slowish pace and runs for 2 hours.
Watch trailer @MOC