Review: Take Shelter

Curtis (Michael Shannon) is a man with a problem: it's raining, raining in his head. He's an ordinary working guy in his mid-30s, who finds himself plagued with visions and dreams of apocalyptic storms – of thunder of computer-generated ferocity, rain like thick yellow oil and violent disorder.

He tries to keep a lid on it, fearing that they are symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, a condition his mother developed at the same age, but he just can't contain them.

Director Jeff Nichol's previous film was low-key drama Shotgun Stories and this offers further proof that CGIs are taking over film. There's a basic imbalance, however, at the film's centre.

The majority of it is played with an unassuming naturalism. But every so often, this is abruptly interrupted by some stereotypical, though very effective, action set piece or effects sequence.

It is like someone is making an effort to sit through a worthy drama on BBC 4 but can't resist occasionally channel hopping to the blockbuster on ITV1.

Shannon is compelling as a man trying to hold on to his sanity but, much as I like his slow drawl delivery, it can be a handicap when it sets the tempo for the whole film.

In the standard Close Encounters-style drama, the little man who sees things others don't is always vindicated but here you're not so sure.

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The problem is as Take Shelter narrows itself into a Is He/Isn't He Mad? pot-boiler, I think you realise that, whichever way it goes, the solution is going to be a bit of a letdown.

Michael Joyce


Director: Jeff Nichols

Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Tova Stewart and Kathy Baker

Length: 120 mins