I missed seeing this at the festival and really regretted it, Michael Shannon is fast becoming one of my favourite actors, not least for his darkly sexy performance as government agent van Alden in Boardwalk Empire (he’s joined here by another Boardwalk stalwart, Shea Whigham). In Take Shelter he plays Curtis, a man suffering from hallucinations and terrible dreams about impending doom – the sort of dreams where you wake up silently screaming and drenched in sweat. Having a mother with paranoid schizophrenia leads him to think his worst fears of heading the same way are being realised and despite seeking out help, he slowly but surely loses control and his idyllic family life descends into chaos.
Curtis struggles between understanding the visions are all in his head and his desperate need to prepare for the worst even at the expense of his job and often, heartbreakingly, the people he loves. Shannon is nothing less than brilliant and surely a cert for an Oscar nomination – this is a fairly long film at two hours, but it never feels too drawn out: he’s magnetic – you can’t take your eyes off him.
Jeff Nichols has directed a powerful and breathtakingly beautiful film that serves as a grim reflection of our times as well as a sensitive portrayal of the impact of mental illness. It’s got a great ending too, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Highly recommended.