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Take Shelter (15)

Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain

Jeff Nichols's brilliantly observed film offers a character study of a mid-western family man (Michael Shannon) whose anxieties risk driving himself and his family into ruin.

"You take your eye off the ball for one minute in this economy and you're screwed," he is told in what proves prophetic advice. Take Shelter is a heartrending story about mental illness. It is also a film about a country that is losing its bearings. The Ohio settings are a very long way removed from Wall Street, but the film taps into the fears unleashed in America by the spectres of unemployment and home repossession. As we hear the sounds of the wind or the rumbles of thunder, the landscape itself colludes in stirring up the sense of unease. Shannon makes Curtis, the husband and father, seem almost like a tragic hero. Jessica Chastain plays his wife as a mid-western Mother Courage, heroically battling to hold things together.