By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood May 19, 2011 at 8:00AM
Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter has won the Grand Prix at Cannes' Critics' Week. The psychological drama/thriller stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. The film is the sophomore outing for Nichols, whose first feature, Shotgun Stories (2007), also starring Shannon, played the fest circuit and received excellent reviews.
Below are reviews from both Sundance and Cannes - [so far] unanimously in awe of Shannon and the film.
David Rooney, THR:
"there's possibly no more mesmerizing American actor working in any medium today than Michael Shannon. His talents are put to exceptional use in writer-director Jeff Nichols' devastating Take Shelter…While at times it conjures suggestions of vintage Polanski-style paranoia in rural America, this haunting psychological thriller is also a quasi-horror movie firmly rooted in slice-of-life reality. An allegory for the troubles of the world bearing down on ordinary people in an age of natural, industrial and economic cataclysms, it taps into pervasive anxiety more acutely than any film since Todd Haynes' Safe."
Justin Chang, Variety:
"this deliberately paced psychological drama builds an ever-tightening knot of tension around an excellent Michael Shannon, here playing a family man slowly driven mad by apocalyptic visions that could be paranoid, prophetic or both…Adam Stone's widescreen cinematography is simply pristine, making poetic use of shadows and capturing the dolorous beauty of the film's Midwestern landscape…Skillfully tapping into a nameless but all-too-familiar sense of dread, of being powerless to hold danger at bay, "Take Shelter" emerges a study of troubled masculinity in a troubled world."
Kevin Jagernauth, ThePlaylist:
"Take Shelter is almost novelistic in its approach to character and pace, but its ambitions and victories are strongly cinematic, and Shannon’s performance is the stuff bad dreams are made of—human, frightened, fragile, hesitant. “Take Shelter” could benefit from a brief reduction in its running time, to be sure—but as it stands, it’s still a slow-building silent scream that culminates in a moment designed to terrify and transfix just as expertly as it was calculated to send audiences into the lobby arguing about what it truly means."
John Lopez, Vanity Fair:
"movies can occasionally be works of art. Take Shelter is such a film…Take Shelter seems to capture a moment in the American psyche,..We know that things aren’t quite right, and may never again be what they once were. We don’t know what the solutions are—yet, somehow, we’re supposed to not allow our anxiety to overpower our lives. It would be tempting to see Take Shelter as a metaphor for America in an age of financial collapse—or even the struggles of independent film in an era of destruction and revolution. But what Take Shelter really speaks to is something more fundamentally human. We all hang over an abyss on a slender thread. If you dare to look too deep into that darkness, vertigo can consume you."
Lee Marshall, ScreenDaily:
"Perhaps the film’s greatest strength though is the way it combines hints that we’re watching a parable of the new US climate of anxiety with an unflinching dedication to the reality of its characters’ plights. Chastain is good as the film’s emotional touchstone, a mother striving to protect her child but also hold on to the man she loves, and help him to separate hallucination from reality. But it’s Shannon as a man desperate to keep a grip, yet unable to rewire his mind, who really stands out. Rarely has a descent into madness been presented with such disturbing and affecting empathy."