Parents' Guide to

Take Shelter

By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Psychological drama has language, mental health themes.

Movie R 2011 120 minutes
Take Shelter poster

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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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