Release Date: October 13
Visions from God have been a hotly debated, confusing and problematic phenomenon since the dawn of time. Take Shelter focuses upon a man who is troubled by visions of looming destruction. Is he a prophet or a nut case?
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Pear Harbour) plays Curtis, a blue-collar family man in middle America whose life is turned upside down by previews of a natural apocalypse that are visible only to him. Uncertain how to tell anyone of his visions, Curtis obsessively begins work on a backyard tornado shelter, straining his marriage and friendships. His conservative church background provides little explanation for his turmoil except to suggest that he might be receiving premonitions of a judgment to come. The plot thickens when Curtis discovers that his mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia around about his age. She tells him that she used to be convinced people were watching her in much the same way that he believes God is warning him.
Take Shelter is a psychological thriller built on the idea that prophetic and delusional people would look much the same to the outside world. Interestingly this story’s drama is built around the nature of Curtis’ revelation – is there something to worry about or isn’t there? Characters like Curtis’ wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) struggle to believe because the news is so threatening. She has to overcome not only the idea that some higher being might be talking to Curtis, but that the message it wants communicated is a bad one. Human beings seem to have far more tolerance of message from the ‘beyond’ when they’re good news. Consider the success of books like Conversations with God, described by Amazon as,
“Far from the apocalyptic predictions or cultic eccentricities you might expect, [but] in-your-face wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to yourself and your spirituality.”
Nothing threatening there! But Curtis’ problem is the same that every ‘prophetic’ Christian faces when they deliver the Good News. The difficulty of being the bearer of bad tidings – even for good reasons – is a poignant component of this award-winning, unusual drama. The test for Curtis, as for any other messenger is whether they prove faithful to the message, and whether the message proves faithful to the one who hears it.