Friday, October 21, 2011

Take Shelter

Leaving the theater after seeing Take Shelter (dir. Jeff Nichols), I heard thunder and felt big raindrops starting to hit my face. Once you see this movie, which you absolutely should, you'll understand why I pretty much had a panic attack on the sidewalk.

Without revealing any spoilers, the movie follows a similar story arc - the process of going mad, from the mad person's perspective - to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," a really great short story that I had to read four times to earn a BA in English. It's common to find stories told from a neutral outsider perspective, but to see a man struggle so earnestly with his psychological stability, to admit and confront his family's history of schizophrenia while simultaneously engaging with his irrational thoughts and feelings, is truly exciting and challenging.

It's been a long time since I've been so psychologically affected by a movie. Take Shelter deals with a lot of interesting conflicting structures; environmental, for example, as Michael Shannon's character works at some job that requires him to drill into the earth, and meanwhile he's faced with nightmares of a huge, ultra-destructive storm. His daughter is deaf, and yet he mentions how he always takes his boots off so as not to wake her up. These conflicts between rationality and instinct are the fundamental motivation behind this film, and really equip Michael Shannon to give a great performance.

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