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“Take Shelter” has scenes of incredible, dangerous, visual beauty: a far-off funnel cloud churning its tall gray wind; a succession of huge, serious lightning bolts tapping a fiery code across the darkness.
It has a story that develops gradually, with perfect tension and a lot more believability than I’d expect from a movie like this.
By “a movie like this,” I mean a formulaic, predictable thriller, complete with one of those soundtracks that gets louder and more tremulous whenever an ordinary moment is on the verge of turning horrifying.
Director Jeff Nichols’ film focuses on Curtis (Michael Shannon), a devoted family man suddenly overcome with terrifying dreams and visions. Curtis tries to seek help for himself, but, despite his and others’ laudable efforts, Curtis’ increasing mental instability quickly begins to interfere with all parts of his life.
Many thrillers would have viewers believe the guy with the vivid hallucinations trusts no one, has no support network, and has never heard of a psychiatrist. However, Curtis’ reaction to his newfound paranoia strikes me as completely realistic. He asks reasonable questions. He confides in his wife. He clearly suspects he’s going insane and takes pretty valiant steps to not.
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