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Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon ... see more see more... , Natasha Randall , Ron Kennard , Scott Knisley , Robert Longstreet , Heather Caldwell , Sheila Hullihen , John Kloock , Maryanna Alacchi , Jacque Jovic , Bob Maines , Charles Moore , Pete Ferry , Molly McGinnis , Angie Marino-Smith , Isabelle Smith , Tina Stump , Ken Strunk , Maryann Nagel , Hailee Dickens , Kathy Baker , Guy Van Swearingen , Lisa Gay Hamilton , William Alexander , Joanna Tyler , Stuart Greer , Ray McKinnon , Jake Lockwood , Kim Hendrickson , Bart Flynn , Nick Koesters , Jeffrey Grover

Curtis LaForche lives in a small Ohio town with his wife Samantha and six-year-old daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Money is tight, and navigating Hannah's healthcare and special needs education is a con... read more read more...stant struggle. Despite that, Curtis and Samantha are very much in love and their family is a happy one. Then Curtis begins having terrifying dreams about an encroaching, apocalyptic storm. He chooses to keep the disturbance to himself, channeling his anxiety into the obsessive building of a storm shelter in their backyard. But the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within the community doesn't compare to Curtis' private fear of what his dreams may truly signify. Faced with the proposition that his disturbing visions signal disaster of one kind or another, Curtis confides in Samantha, testing the power of their bond against the highest possible stakes. -- (C) Sony Classics

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DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012

Stats: 2,387 reviews

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  • November 15, 2013
    From Start to finish this movie sucked. Its a wonder it didn't ruin Michael Shannon carrer. 2 hours long are you kidding me, was this someone's tax write off. If you give thiss anything above 2 stars please I say please dont ask me to go to the movie with you. 1/2 star 11-09-13
  • May 5, 2013
    A man with a family history of mental illness believes that his family is endangered by natural disasters.
    Michael Shannon, the man who made Bug even more amazing than it already was and who rocked the insane sorority girl's email, delivers an astounding performance in this film.... read more What is so great about him is his restraint, while underneath one can see a seething pit of emotional energy. His work in the film solidifies him as one of the best new actors. Jessica Chastain is also good.
    The film as a whole snuck up on me. I thought it was moving slowly and predictably until the last act. Shannon's work was compelling, but the plot didn't find its legs until the end, but once it did, the scenes were compelling, and I found that I had grown to care about these characters.
    Overall, this is an astounding thriller, and Shannon is a fantastic actor.
  • January 5, 2013
    In Take Shelter, writer/director Jeff Nichols explores not only our own concepts of reality vis a vis the film itself, but delves into how others perceive and deal with the possibility that something just isn't right.

    What we are given is Curtis, an honest man living in a smal... read morel town in Ohio who is struggling with the added financial burden of special needs classes for his deaf daughter. Nichols hits all the right touches of a bonded family, with wife Samantha supplementing the family income by sewing and embroidering while caring for their daughter. Yet slowly a darkness descends on their lives as Curtis, in a wonderfully measured performance by Michael Shannon, begins to have visions of apocalyptic proportions. The central question is whether these visions and nightmares are prophetic or a sign of mental illness. Nichols walks a fine line in leaving that determination to the viewer.

    The juxtaposition between small town life where everyone seems to know everyone else (and their business) and the wonderfully filmed sequences of thunderheads crackling with lightning set the tone as Curtis and wife Samantha (well played by Jessica Chastain) go about their daily lives only to be thrown into having to face the darkness - these scenes of outrage, followed by redemption and acceptance show the strength of their love and their commitment to each other and the family they have created. It's this bond as well as the way in which Nichols so easily gives us a view of a way of life that not only adds to the suspense but separates this film from so many other neo apocalyptical films (for in this case the film isn't so much about the apocalypse (because it may or may not be real, or may or may not be mere metaphor), but about a man's mind and his soul, as well as the soul of his loving wife.

    The film certainly takes a measured pace in doling out the story, which at times dampens the tension, but overall this is a terrific study in humanity and how the human mind is capable of projecting our fears into our dreams - whether or not this is an illness, or part of the human condition is part and parcel of the film's mystery. Check it out and decide for yourself.
  • November 1, 2012
    Curtis lives in a small town and lives a quiet life working construction as a means to support himself, his wife, and their young daughter who is deaf. One day, Curtis begins having nightmarish visions and dreams of a major storm of apocalyptic visions, and becomes feverishly dri... read moreven to work on a storm shelter and make the necessary proportions to survive what could be the virtual end of mankind. Since he does have a family history of mental illness, it could all just be in his head, but even then, he is compelled to see his quest through to the end, despite the toll it takes on his personal and professional lives, and the persecution he receives from others.

    This is not only the best 'descent into madness' film I've seen in a while, it's one of the best of that type in general. The modest budget indie route was also probably the best way to go for this film too, because I can't see it working as well as a major budget studio affair. The film has a great atmosphere that is tense, subtle, creepy, and really nuanced.

    What effects there are are great, but the real strength lies with the writing, but especially the acting. Michael Shannon knocks it out of the park here, and this is one of his bet performances. His casting could seem slightly on the nose, but I think he still really sells it perfectly. Jessica Chastain appears as his concerned wife, and I'm really starting to like her. It probably helps too that she's been in a ridiculous number of movies over the past couple of years, but I don't think it's just the high amount of exposure. She really is a capable actress who should have a long and fruitful career ahead of her.

    I like that the film spends a lot of time towing the line between what could be real, and what could be imaginary. It really sucks you in and draws out the suspense even more. Answers are given, but even then, you still find yourself questioning things. This is some of the most compelling film making I've seen in a while.

    Definitely give this one a shot. It's haunting and really unforgettable.
  • September 4, 2012
    Although our protagonist is frightened that he may be succumbing to paranoid schizophrenia which runs in his family, I believe the real subject matter here is about male paranoia. I believe it's the best film on the subject since Eraserhead and a brilliant statement on the comple... read morexities of what is expected in modern society without regard to how easy or hard things are becoming. It can often feel like a big storm is coming and just maybe one is. *Spoiler alert* - My suspicions of it being predominantly male paranoia are only backed up when there is actually a storm because lets face it, us guys don't like to be wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed Take Shelter, definitely one of my favourite films of last year.
  • September 1, 2012
    In my review of The Road, I commented on our culture's fascination with the end of the world - a fascination which has produced a stream of science fiction and action movies which use the annihilation of our species to explore social and political issues. Eighty years after this ... read moretrend started with the appropriately-titled End of the World, we now have Take Shelter, a haunting and slow-burning psychodrama which makes a far better case than The Road for being the great apocalyptic film for our time.

    Like The Road, Take Shelter could be described as a slow-moving shaggy-dog story. It's 2 hours long and feels like it, but unlike The Road it nearly always uses the time widely. While John Hillcoat's film lacked a sense of escalation and eventually became repetitive, Jeff Nichols takes us through every single flinch of emotion in the right order, so that we know the characters inside out before the storm arrives. This is not a film which is waiting to rush headlong into the special effects - it wants to build and build so that it becomes about the people, not the punch-line.

    The film draws on a number of entries in the apocalyptic thriller canon, some easier to spot than others. Nichols described it as being an indie take on the big-budget disaster movies of the 1990s, such as Twister and Deep Impact. He styled the film as being 90% indie drama and 10% special effects, while in these kinds of films it is normally the other way around (and a lot less indie). The first success of Take Shelter is the refreshing sense we get from watching real characters, whom we care about beyond any generic expectations.

    The film also references to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, not only in the sequences involving birds attacking humans but in the inexplicable and intangible nature of the threat over which the characters have no control. You might also say that this is how The Happening would have turned out, had it been made by someone with brains and no ego. But by far the closest resemblance is to Michael Tolkin's little-seen The Rapture, which imagines what it would be like if the Biblical prophesies in Revelation were literally true. You won't find any seven seals, bowls of wrath or a Whore of Babylon in this film, but there is the same sense of a global, supernatural catastrophe which the world is too ignorant or frightened to acknowledge.

    This resemblance is conveyed in the story's Biblical overtones. The film is on one level a retelling of Noah and the flood - a story of a man driven to build a great structure that will keep his family safe from the upcoming destruction of the world. Like Noah (and Sharon in The Rapture), Curtis' project is ridiculed by the locals, for whom spending money on doing up a tornado shelter must seem as stupid as building a boat miles from any ocean. When Darren Aronofsky's Noah arrives in 2014, this is the standard to which it will have to be compared.

    As you might have gathered by now, Take Shelter departs from the disaster movies of Roland Emmerich and the like by actually using the disaster to represent something. This is not a film which is being made simply to cash in on all the nonsense surrounding Mayan prophecies or the revived interest in Nostradamus. The drama and trauma experienced by the characters reflects how we would react to an impending disaster as ordinary people, who do not conform to the conventions of action movies, and who cannot simply be divided into protagonists and obvious cannon fodder.

    Take Shelter also has a decent amount of subtext about the current financial crisis. Nichols wrote the script in 2008, shortly after directing Shotgun Stories and around the time of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Not only are the central characters under a huge amount of financial strain, but the film positions Curtis as a Cassandra figure, representing the warnings about the housing bubble and sub-prime lending which went unheeded until it was too late. Jut as Gojira depicted a country reeling from nuclear war, so this film is about a man doing all he can to shelter his family from the crisis that will raise our financial system and society to the ground.

    But for all its allegorical subtext, what really makes Take Shelter stick in your mind is the nuanced of its characters and the emotional turmoil they face. The film is a fable about devotion to one's family and sticking to your beliefs even if it means going against what seems best for those you love in the short term. The film is confident and mature enough to give us a protagonist whom we don't unequivocally back: we are still making up our mind over whether to trust Curtis right up until the moment when the yellow rain begins to fall again.

    Curtis is an interesting character since we have complete emotional empathy for his cause and yet we never entirely trust him through the main part of the film. He isn't an antihero in the traditional sense, displaying no desire to rebel against society or mistreat his friends. Instead he is someone who treads the fine line between sanity and insanity, driven by his belief in what is right and his fears of becoming schizophrenic like his mother. The film gives us a great many reasons not to trust him, including this revelation - and yet we somehow go with him, believing the validity of his cause.

    The film is grounded in the brilliant central performance of Michael Shannon, who is becoming the go-to actor for borderline deranged, edgy characters. Shannon is physically intimidating, with eyes that seem to look right through us: even the act of him saying that he's fine can put us on edge. But he is careful to rein this in, making us focus on his sense of tragedy, and his struggle to keep everything internalised so that he can focus on his plan without hurting his family.

    Shannon is ably supported by Jessica Chastain, who was nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance. Whatever the merits of her work in The Tree of Life, Chastain seems to have more to work with here, with Nichols ensuring that her breakdowns don't feel choreographed or predictable. Special plaudits should also be given to Tova Stewart, who plays Curtis and Samantha's 6-year-old daughter and is also deaf in real life. Nichols called her one of the smartest child actors he'd met, and you never get the sense of her being manipulated to produce an emotional response.

    Being a film about the end of the world, Take Shelter does involve a certain amount of special effects. Nichols is reserved in using them, but when it does become necessary to have birds attacking or furniture floating in slow-motion, he is careful to integrate it into the action. As with The Birds, we don't really notice too many technical shortcomings since we are so bound up with the fate of the characters to emotionally invest in anything else. We don't care about how well the birds are rendered or whether the waterspouts are accurate in size: all we care about is whether Curtis, Samantha and Hannah will get out alive.

    Take Shelter is a great, haunting and thought-provoking film which reminds us of the potential that exists in stories about the end of the world. Shannon and Chastain's superb performances are matched by Nichols' strong screenwriting and direction, giving us a character study with depth and threat to counterpart the looming destruction of their world. Some viewers may balk at the running time, but those who stay will not be disappointed by one of the very best films of 2011.
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    August 26, 2012
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    Just like Melancholia and We Need to Talk About Kevin, "Take Shelter" is another movie that is very well-made, yet very uncomfortable to watch. In fact, the film is especially comparable to the former, which also uses the film medium to portray a mental illness through some sort ... read moreof impending doom. "Take Shelter" has the benefit of Michael Shannon's amazing performance, and Jeff Nichols definitely knows how to make audiences care about the characters. Unfortunately, it has an uncompromisingly oppressive atmosphere, which is the point but still makes it a tough watch for most audiences. Also, the little girl in this movie somehow doesn't cry despite one trauma-inducing scenario after another.
  • August 4, 2012
    A film I can't find fault with. Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a man who begins to have very realistic dreams concerning big storms and bizarre goings on. He is scared in case these visions come true, but also terrified that they wont as this means he may be succumbing to paranoid... read more schizophrenia like his mother. This is what makes the film work so well for me. Many times in these films the protagonist immediately believes in the visions or prophecies they are having. Curtis' first act is to find some books on understanding mental illness. At the same time however, he is also planning for the worst by redeveloping an old storm shelter out back. This causes conflict with his wife, best friend, and the community he lives in. It's not only his paranoia of what might happen, but their paranoia over what he may become. Shannon is astonishing in the role, we never once doubt his good intentions, but always question his sanity. The most emotional thing about the film is knowing that if everything turns out OK then that means Curtis isn't OK. It's a Catch-22 that really captivates and involves the audience. The dream sequences play out more successfully than any recent horror, and we're never quite sure of when dreams begin and end. The ending is very powerful and should cause much discussion between film lovers. A wonderful film.
  • May 22, 2012
    A gloomy and unsettling allegory centered on a modern Noah, paranoid and on the verge of a mental breakdown, played with an extraordinary intensity by Michael Shannon. A compelling drama with a careful slow pace and a glorious ending.
  • May 14, 2012
    Take Shelter is an indie gem, a low key, subtle yet constantly surprising film that works on every level. The young and talented Jeff Nichols shows a very original sensibility here (combining kitchen sink realism with a side of supernatural terror). The flick is anchored by the... read more impressive acting chops of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain (both are everywhere all of a sudden) who are more than up to the challenge.

    It's the story of Curtis, a troubled, but fundamentally decent Ohio working man with a supportive wife Samantha, and lovely, hearing impaired daughter. He's on the verge of a mental collapse - he may have inherited paranoid schizophrenia from his mother (Kathy Baker). Curtis is haunted by dreams and premonitions of an apocalyptic storm. He starts to built an elaborate storm shelter on his property, behind the backs of his wife and friends, and takes out an ill advised bank loan to pay for it. Interestingly, Curtis doesn't share any of his visions (or his project) with his wife and coworkers, yet we know exactly what he's thinking at all times, and the great Shannon does it with subtext and a look. (And Nichols does it with very restrained but effective special effects, showing Curtis' imaginings).

    Without histrionics, Take Shelter portrays, in totally believable and non-schmaltzy way, a couple in love and the toll that mental illness takes on a relationship. We care about both of them, and the film is empathetic to each side of the equation. Would we stay with a partner who's showing a total, scary breakdown? Chastain shows how, in a very human, not quite saint like way. The story is much like a Kitchen sink, down to earth version of The Shining, without the grotesque horror or gallows humor. It's to the credit of the film that up to the end, we wonder if there is actually an apocalypse coming. The final moment when the family comes out of the storm shelter is intensely dramatic and suspenseful.

    Though Take Shelter requires some intense concentration, it will be rewarded. This film is well deserving of its accolades and I'm excited to see what Michael Shannon and Jeff Nichols (and Jessica Chastian) do next.

Critic Reviews


David Thomson
June 20, 2013
David Thomson, The New Republic

In my estimate, this unique and frequently arresting film suffers from the monotony of the lead players' affect, and from the film's urge to have its gloomy cake and eat it. Full Review

Justin Chang
January 4, 2012
Justin Chang, Variety

A hallucinatory thriller anchored by a deeply resonant sense of unease. Full Review

Tom Huddleston
November 22, 2011
Tom Huddleston, Time Out

When future film historians look back at the cultural fallout from America's financial collapse, 'Take Shelter' will be a key text. That is, if the storm doesn't sweep us all away. Full Review

Roger Moore
October 30, 2011
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

Shannon wonderfully modulates Nichols' portrait of a man whose mind and life seem to unravel before our eyes. Full Review

Tom Long
October 28, 2011
Tom Long, Detroit News

There's a strong, unsettling sense of disease that runs through Take Shelter, the best drama of the year so far. Full Review

Joe Williams
October 28, 2011
Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In an era of empty entertainments, "Take Shelter" is built to last. Full Review

Bill Goodykoontz
October 27, 2011
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

Shannon is astounding, playing a good man pushed to the brink of sanity, maybe beyond. He portrays a sense of quiet desperation -- a feeling recognizable to many. Full Review

Rene Rodriguez
October 26, 2011
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

Take Shelter is paced slowly and deliberately, which is necessary to make believable whatever is tormenting Curtis. Full Review

Lisa Kennedy
October 21, 2011
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

A work of hushed and persuasive emotional veracity. Full Review

Chris Vognar
October 21, 2011
Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

The movies have long been mad about the onset of madness. Full Review

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Facts


    • Curtis: I still take off my boots not to wake her.
    • Samantha: I still whisper.
    • Curtis LaForche: What if it's not ended?
    • Curtis: You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up, there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.
    • Curtis LaForche: Next vacation, we're going to the mountains.
    • Curtis: Is anyone else seeing this?
    • Curtis LaForche: [prophetic] There's a storm comin'!

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