Take Shelter

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Take Shelter
Take Shelter poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jeff Nichols
Produced by Sophia Lin
Tyler Davidson
Written by Jeff Nichols
Starring Michael Shannon
Jessica Chastain
Shea Whigham
Katy Mixon
Kathy Baker
Music by David Wingo
Cinematography Adam Stone
Edited by Parke Gregg
Hydraulx Entertainment
Grove Hill Productions
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • January 24, 2011 (2011-01-24) (Sundance)
  • September 30, 2011 (2011-09-30) (United States)
Running time 121 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million[2]
Box office $3,077,604[3]

Take Shelter is a 2011 American drama-thriller film written and directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father (Shannon) questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself. It was nominated for four Saturn Awards including Best Horror or Thriller Film and Best Actress for Chastain, and won Best Writing for Nichols and Best Actor for Shannon.


In Lagrange, Ohio, Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) has apocalyptic dreams of rain "like motor oil" and being harmed by people close to him, but he keeps them from his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and their deaf daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart). He focuses on building a storm shelter in his backyard, but the strange behavior strains his relationship with his family. Curtis goes to see a counselor at a free clinic, with whom he talks about his family's psychological history. His mother (Kathy Baker) suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which manifested about the same age that Curtis is now.

Curtis borrows equipment from his job, including a backhoe, and gets a home improvement loan to start building the shelter, all without telling his wife. She becomes angry when she discovers the project. After Curtis takes more than the prescribed dose of a sedative and suffers a seizure, his wife calls an ambulance. He quickly recovers and explains the situation to her, including his dreams.

Distracted by getting treatment for his daughter, Curtis begins to miss more work. Having been informed about the borrowed equipment, his boss fires Curtis and levies two weeks unpaid leave on Dewart (Shea Whigham), a co-worker who is helping build the shelter.

Curtis buys gas masks for his family and extends his previous health insurance policy for a few weeks. Finding his counselor has been replaced and he must start over with a new one, Curtis walks out of the office. Curtis and his wife fight over him being fired. She gets him to see an actual psychiatrist. At a community gathering, Curtis begins yelling about a storm that is coming and insists that none of them are prepared. A tornado warning later sends him and his family into the shelter.

After they awaken, Curtis reluctantly removes his gas mask, prompted by Samantha. They go to open the shelter doors, but he still hears a storm outside. His wife implores him that there's no storm and that he needs to open the door. After a tense standoff, Curtis throws open the doors into the blinding sun; a minor storm has passed and neighbors are cleaning up broken tree limbs and debris.

A psychiatrist advises the couple to go through with a planned beach vacation, though Curtis will need to undergo more extensive therapy when he returns. At Myrtle Beach, while Curtis is playing with Hannah, she signs the word "storm." As Samantha exits the house, the thick, yellow rain that Curtis experienced in his dreams begins to fall. She looks up to see a storm brewing over the ocean, waterspouts reach down, and the tide pulls back as a tsunami grows in the distance.[4]



Take Shelter premiered in January 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, and Sony Pictures Classics acquired rights to distribute the film in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand.[5] The film also screened in May 2011 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the 50th Critics' Week Grand Prix.[6] It also received the Fipresci award from the International Federation of Film Critics, sharing it with Le Havre and The Minister.[7] In September 2011, Take Shelter was shown at the 37th Deauville American Film Festival, where it beat 13 other contenders to win the festival's grand prize.[8] Later in September, Take Shelter was shown at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival[9][10] and at the 7th Zurich Film Festival, where it was awarded as the best International Feature Film.[11][12]

The film had a limited release in New York and Los Angeles on September 30, 2011.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Take Shelter received positive reviews and has a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews with an average score of 8.1 out of 10. The consensus states "Michael Shannon gives a powerhouse performance and the purposefully subtle filmmaking creates a perfect blend of drama, terror, and dread."[14] The film also has a score of 85 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 33 reviews indicating "universal acclaim".[15] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 4 out of 4 stars.[16]


  1. ^ "Take Shelter (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  2. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=takeshelter.htm
  3. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=takeshelter.htm
  4. ^ "Take Shelter". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ Cox, Gordon (January 18, 2011). "Sony snaps up 'Take Shelter' at Sundance". Variety. 
  6. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (May 19, 2011). "'Take Shelter' wins Critics' Week". Variety. 
  7. ^ Hopewell, John (May 21, 2011). "'Le Havre' win top Fipresci crits' award". Variety. 
  8. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (September 11, 2011). "'Shelter' finds room at top". Variety. 
  9. ^ Feinberg, Scott (September 18, 2011). "Toronto 2011: 'Where Do We Go Now?' Wins Audience Award". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  10. ^ Lambert, Christine (2011), "Take Shelter TIFF premiere photos", DigitalHit.com, retrieved 2012-04-05 
  11. ^ "Zurich Film Festival". Zff.com. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  12. ^ "Zurich Film Festival". Zff.com. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  13. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (September 27, 2011). "Jessica Chastain: The dazzling redhead who's suddenly everywhere". Salon.com. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 'Take Shelter' opens Sept. 30 in New York and Los Angeles, with wider national release to follow. 
  14. ^ "Take Shelter". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Take Shelter". Metacritic. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (2011-10-05). "Take Shelter". Rogerebert.com. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 

External links[edit]