If you've seen Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road or HBO's Boardwalk Empire, you know he's an actor who means business. In Take Shelter, a film that prides itself for the distance it keeps from multiplex formula, Shannon gives himself over completely to a complex role and leaves you shattered. He plays Curtis LaForche, a crew manager for an Ohio sand-mining company, husband to Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and father of their six-year-old daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who is deaf. Lately, Curtis has been having visions of an impending apocalypse, disturbing visions that estrange him from his family and his co-workers. Chastain's quietly implosive performance breaks your heart as she searches Curtis' eyes for the man she married. Writer-director Jeff Nichols, who worked with Shannon on Shotgun Stories, seems to breathe as one with this gifted actor. That's all I'm going to say about Take Shelter, the better to let you get lost in its dark poetry and enveloping mystery. Nichols throws curveballs, but his film is unique and unforgettable.
Photo by Scott Gardner, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
From The Archives Issue 1141: October 13, 2011