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DVD: Take Shelter (15)


Michael Shannon, the best thing about Revolutionary Road and sensational as Nelson van Alden in Boardwalk Empire, carries Jeff Nichols's unsettling drama on his broad shoulders.

 He plays deeply troubled Curtis, who we first observe looking up at a menacing sky, nervously waiting for a storm to come. This blue-collar family man is suffering from savage dreams – in one, his dog rips off his hand; in another, lunatics abduct his deaf six-year-old daughter – and he's becoming increasingly paranoid and delusional. "Have you ever seen birds fly like that?" he anxiously asks his pal Dewart (Shea Whigham). Curtis becomes convinced that unknown forces are hell-bent on seizing his tolerant wife, Hannah (the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain), and daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), so he gives away his beloved hound and starts pouring his money into building a tornado shelter for his family in the backyard.

It's clear that he is experiencing the same kind of schizophrenia that saw his mother (Kathy Baker) institutionalised many years before, so he sensibly seeks therapy and medication. However, in a country ravaged by an economic downturn, his employers are less than sympathetic and everything starts to unravel. Take Shelter is a perceptive examination of mental illness as well as a quietly angry look at unemployment, debt and stress in America. There is a storm coming...