Roland Emmerich can bite me. The guy’s been making disaster films since time can remember, yet for all his besetting humans with floods, fires, and earthquakes (and the occasional alien invasion), he’s never managed to make something as resonant, affecting, and powerful as TAKE SHELTER. A film that skirts the line between vivid fantasy and straight drama, it tells the tale of a loving, working-class husband and father (Michael Shannon) suddenly overwhelmed by visions of impending doom and torn between the compulsion to protect his wife (Jessica Chastain) and deaf daughter (Tova Stewart) from the onslaught and the fear that a family history of schizophrenia may be making itself manifest. This is director Jeff Nichols second feature (and his second with Shannon), and in weaving a scenario that balances vivid imagery with nuanced observation — and is highlighted by moving, vulnerable performances from Shannon and Chastain, among others — the film speaks compellingly not only to the power of familial love, but to a sense of creeping helplessness that’s overtaking American society.
Click on the player to hear my interview with Nichols.
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