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Take Shelter 2011 ***

Michael Shannon may have been a dull General Zod in Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel, but he’s an excellent actor who makes the most of a leading role in Take Shelter, and ambitious but gripping account of one man’s mental disintegration. Writer/director Jeff Nichols keeps the focus tight as Curtis (Shannon) struggles to keep his family unit together, but he’s plagued with apocalyptic visions, and even the love of his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) isn’t enough to stop him from sinking into self-absorption. As Curtis starts building a shelter to protect himself and his family, he becomes further unhinged, leading to a searing collapse over lunch at his local club. One of the few films dealing with mental illness to get the details right, Nichols’ film is a towering drama of great power and compassion, right up to and including the memorably ambiguous ending.


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