A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Taking care of and protecting family is a central theme. But this notion often fails to materialize in the film. Frequent discussions about mental health.
Positive Role Models
Curtis works hard and alongside his wife, Samantha, tries to be a dedicated, responsible parent. However, he has trouble maintaining his physical and mental health. As a result of this he says and does things that harm his relationships with his family, as well as with his colleagues and his friends.
The cast is predominantly White, with some gender balance among the main cast. Most of the characters are working class and blue-collar workers. One of the characters is deaf-mute and portrayed by a deaf actor. Some sign language used. Portrayal of mental illness includes one supporting character that has a diagnosed condition.
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Violence & Scariness
A character is mauled by a dog in a brief and non-gory scene. Minor bloody injury from car accident. Nightmare scenes of peril and trauma. Bleeding after seizure. Fighting with punches and kicks thrown, but no serious injuries. Fight with a weapon and bloody injury. A character slaps someone in the face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lighthearted reference to a threesome, played for comic effect. Character shown shirtless. Kissing.
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Language used includes "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "goddamn," and "damn." "Jesus" and "God" both used as exclamations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink beer to mild intoxication. A character drives while possibly being over the legal limit. Medicinal, prescribed drugs taken to excess in one instance.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Take Shelter is a psychological drama with themes around mental health, occasional strong language, and trauma. The story centers on Curtis (Michael Shannon), whose life becomes disrupted by a series of nightmares and hallucinations that leads him to believe an apocalyptic storm is incoming. Curtis' wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), endures his behavior but it also takes its toll on her and Curtis' work life. Their daughter, Hannah, is deaf and is played by Tova Stewart, who is a deaf actor. Both Curtis and Samantha use sign language to communicate with Hannah. Violence is infrequent and not graphic, although Curtis' nightmares and visions are traumatic and in some cases recall violent incidents. There are also a couple of minor violence confrontations that include a slap to the face and a scuffle that involves punches and kicks. A couple of accidents and other incidents result in blood being drawn from minor injuries. Language is also rare but does feature in some heated arguments and exchanges, with a few instances of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters are seen drinking and on one occasion it would appear someone is driving under the influence. Curtis is also seen taking prescription medication to help with his condition. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Jeff Nichols won international acclaim for this film about a hardworking everyman whose consuming fear of an oncoming storm threatens more than just his way of life. At the center of Take Shelter, Nichols' regular collaborator Shannon expertly conveys character Curtis' unease, which slowly escalates into something much more unsettling and threatens to cost him his health, job, and family. It's an interesting set-up propelled by plenty of fine performances, but the movie never quite solves the problem of how surreal it wants Curtis' condition to be. What we're left with is an uneven mix of nervous breakdown and prophecy. Depending on interpretation, some viewers might also feel short-changed by the finale.
There's a sense that Take Shelter symbolizes the mounting hardships faced by working-class communities, and if so then it remains timely since its 2011 release. But at the same time it feels strangely directionless, with no sense of what lies ahead for its characters. All of which makes it a bold and difficult movie to categorize by genre, but also a difficult one to enjoy.
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