Take Shelter [Blu-Ray] Jeff Nichols

Take Shelter [Blu-Ray] Jeff Nichols
Superficially speaking, Jeff Nichols' quietly impressive sophomore outing, Take Shelter, is about the onset of apocalyptic visions that happily married blue-collar worker Curtis (Michael Shannon) experiences. Initially occurring in dreams, these visions focus on abnormally aggressive dogs and faceless people attacking during torrential downpours, eventually graduating to daytime hallucinations involving aberrant bird migration behaviour and moving furniture. It's a standard issue faith-versus-science parable about personal consciousness, wherein the obfuscation of reality either is acknowledged as fatalistic phenomena or signifies the more scientifically explainable experience of schizophrenia. In this capacity, Nichols handles this character piece with far more care and thought than his predecessors, detailing the logical response of a man dealing with something he can't explain. Afraid of scaring his wife (Jessica Chastain) and daughter (Tova Stewart) unnecessarily, he hides his condition to the best of his abilities, seeking help from out-of-town doctors and painstaking research. This makes the slow-building and compounding reactions wife Samantha to his increasingly erratic behaviour that much more heartbreaking, given our identification with his tragic plight. But if we scrutinize this "is he crazy or is he a visionary?" narrative, the deeper romantic core becomes evident. As a husband and father keen to maintain a happy and healthy household, his visions and confusion are exacerbated by concerns of things beyond his control. In loving his wife, the relationship concerns of hurt and disappointment compound themselves, manifesting in doubt. For example, the realization that the love of your life can quickly turn cold and hostile after a misunderstanding or difference in opinion can be terrifying, leading to an analysis of potential hostilities and disparities down the road. And even if you can learn to work together with someone and cope with your doubts of self in relation to holding onto love and passion, how can you be assured that the outside world won't take it all away from you? In this sense, his visions act as a parable for pragmatic romantic assessment, working as a self-destructive precursor to the many "what ifs?" that can drive a person insane or dissolve a relationship. This attention to detail and true human psychology make Take Shelter a profound work of necessary viewing, since he's managed to make a film that works on every level. Included with the Blu-Ray is a brief "Making of" and "Q&A," wherein Nichols discusses where the idea originated and the various actors elaborate on why they hopped on board. There's also a commentary track with Nichols and Shannon that details many on-set anecdotes and behind-the-scenes problems. (Sony)