What happens when you want to protect your family, but you may need to protect them from yourself?  Take Shelter is a slow, deliberate examination of one man's fears for his family.

Curtis (Michael Shannon) has a good life.  He has a steady job on a drilling crew, where he works with friends.  He loves his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and his young daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart), who is deaf.  They have their own home, enough savings to go on vacation, and even the possibility that surgery could restore Hannah's hearing.

Then the visions and nightmares start.  During the day, Curtis imagines seeing massive storms on the horizon, muddy brown rain, birds flying in unusual patterns, and attacks from faceless people.  At night, he has nightmares of storms and attacks that impact his behavior.  (For example, after dreaming that his dog bites his arm, Curtis keeps the dog outside the house.)
 Curtis is aware enough that this is abnormal that he speaks with a counselor (LisaGay Hamilton), as well as visiting his mother (Kathy Baker) who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.  But he also becomes obsessed with the oncoming storm, as he takes out a loan, borrows work equipment and recruits a friend to help him build a tornado shelter in his backyard.  It's not long before his behavior becomes an obsession, impacting his marriage, his daughter, his friends and his job.

Take Shelter is thoughtful, which is both a strength and weakness of the movie.  The film shows the gradual effect of one man's visions and struggle to decide whether he's protecting or harming his family by trying to shelter them from an apocalyptic storm no one else seems aware of.  There are times this struggle makes the movie slow and boring, but it's also more realistic -- and leads to a believable breakdown.  Michael Shannon is very good as the regular man becoming worried about what he sees, and Jessica Chastain is good as his loving but suffering wife.  Take Shelter isn't perfect (I wasn't thrilled with the end) but it's a thoughtful and (mostly) believable drama.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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