Take Shelter (2011)
Dir. Jeff Nichols
Michael Shannon has always been a performer of some note. Someone who can take control of the frame with a single line or come and go as necessary, a skill that allowed him to perform well in independent and tentpole cinema. In Jeff Nichols breakout film “Take Shelter” Shannon takes center stage for the full runtime, giving audiences a two hour argument on why Shannon is one of our finest actors working today. Shannon’s Curtis is a man who is being plagued with dreams and visions of a great storm coming, one from biblical times. By the beginning of “Take Shelter” Shannon is at a breaking point, his visions quickly affect his family and his work, making him slowly into a social pariah within his small rural town.
Nichols is a writer/director who I’ve been following for some time now. He’s a southern filmmaker who makes naturalistic films set in southern America but never falls into the stereotypes that are constantly intruding. For “Shelter” Nichols trades the hills and valleys of the south for the flatlands of Ohio to set this mental health study of a man who believes the world will end, and at great personal cost tries to prepare for this, and no one will listen. The finale of Nichol’s film is one of my favorite endings in film of all time, it’s quiet, sans a wonderfully ominous piece by David Wingo, and the image of Michael Shannon behind a biblical-size storm provides a level of catharsis that may not even be real, but for a few minutes you finally feel that Curtis is seen, and that might have been Nichols intention all along.