Today two scorching new films I’ve previously written about open in Australian cinemas. Kevin Smith’s Red State, which I watched and reviewed a few weeks ago, is a supremely sacrilegious scary movie fitted with unsubtle political and religious undertones. It’s quite a piece of work. You can read my detailed review of the film, including what it means to Smith’s career, here.

But the top film released this week is director Jeff Nichols’s must-see psychological mind-bend Take Shelter, which screened in July as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival. Here’s my review:

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An unnerving slow-burn psychological drama/thriller, writer/director Jeff Nicholss Take Shelter follows young husband Curtis (Michael Shannon) as he plummets in a downwards spiral into mental illness and obsession. Curtis believes with every ounce of his being that a big storm unlike any other is coming, something unprecedented and dreadful, and that he must build a hurricane shelter to provide for and protect his wife and daughter. He hears thunder nobody else does; he sees visions of birds falling out of the sky.

Dream scenes mingle reality with a nightmare scape, but are concentrated in the opening act, a clever move that subsequently casts a long brooding shadow over the entire film.

The central performance from Michael Shannon is brilliant, a vivid depiction of a haunted and confused introspective man brought to breaking point by strange internal forces. You’re never quite sure where the film will head, and whether or not Nichols will decide to blur reality and dreams in obvious or subtle ways. It hits a mid film slow point but Take Shelter is well worth the investment.  A scene set in Curtis’s hurricane shelter is an enthralling moment of white knuckle psychological cinema. Not to be missed.


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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