Movie of the Week: Take Shelter

I remember seeing a preview for the psychological (or supernatural) thriller that is this week’s movie of the week and thinking two things:

1) That looks cool and interesting and

2) Hey that was Kenny Powers’ girlfriend in the preview!

The  movie actually boasts several people from HBO shows – most notably its star Michael Shannon, who plays a hard charging federal agent on Boardwalk Empire.  He is one of the most unique looking people on screens today because his face is a mash-up of strong-jawed handsome and cousin-marrying creepy.   He looks like the James Bond villain Jaws had a kid with a handsome person.  He is married in the film to Jessica Chastain’s character, who based on how many movies she has been in this year she may actually have as much quality time with me as my girlfriend. Seriously, here are the tallies right now for most overused things in Hollywood in 2011:

“How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy – 377 movies, previews and commercials

“Raise your Glass” by Pink – 362 movies, previews and commercials

Jessica Chastain – 1,988 movies

The movie is about Curtis, who is having increasingly frightening dreams of a storm of near apocalyptic dimensions.  He has a wife (played by Chastain) of incredible patience and a deaf daughter who requires a costly surgery.  The movie moves along at a slow, but steady pace as the dreams get more drastic and the Curtis’ actions begin to appear less and less rational.  The dilemmas for Curtis are two-fold. One is that he is a working stiff in America and throughout the film health insurance, bank loans and his employment all become issues that put his family into crisis mode.  The second is that he is increasingly convinced of his dreams as prophecy, despite his knowledge that mental illness runs in his family.

Almost all of the film is centered on the family unit and the acting is excellent.  At times Curtis’ wife seems to have too much patience, but when you realize she knew that she was marrying a semi- scary looking man with mental illness in his family she probably expected things to get bumpy.  Shannon is especially good as Curtis becomes increasingly erratic and volatile because his brain is telling him he is mentally ill, but his soul is telling him something catastrophic is coming.

The end of the film is excellent.  And I will leave it at that.  The movie builds something very interesting as it progresses, but it does build a little too slowly for my taste.  Like my complaint with Moneyball and ESPECIALLY Drive, there was a little bit too much director self-pleasure with lingering shots and other indulgent, artistic superfluities, mostly in the first 2/3 of the film.  Other than that, no complaints.

Final Grade – A-/B+