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Review: Take Shelter

Mid-life breakdown
By PETER KEOUGH  |  October 18, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

"There's a storm coming the likes of which you've never seen!" Curtis (Michael Shannon) declaims to his stunned neighbors in a small Ohio town. It doesn't have the ring of the "I'm mad as hell!" tirade in Network, but it will do. Why the outburst? Curtis has got a solid job and a lovely wife (Jessica Chastain). The daughter is deaf, but he's got the insurance to pay for an operation. His is a good life, as an admiring pal tells him — but not when he sleeps, and the world explodes into portents and lightning. Though he resists the visions, things fall apart when, Noah-like, he expands the backyard storm cellar into a shelter. Shannon's got the crazy bit down pat, and director Jeff Nichols has an eye for turning everyday items — a pile of trash, a clear sky, a barking dog — into signs of immanent doom. Too bad he doesn't trust his talent; you can almost see the moment when he wavers between the terrifying stasis of The Birds and the bogus theatrics of The Happening.

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