‘Take Shelter’ is a surface level film. I did enjoy the subtlety of it and the emphasis on action over dialogue, but after a certain point you realize that the film has been playing on only one note, and it doesn’t have much else to offer. It would be a good pair with Bergman’s ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ which dealt with similar issues but with more involvement and insight.
The climaxes ‘Take Shelter’ reaches almost instantly fizzle out and have nowhere to go. It chooses to hint at certain moments, instead of delving into them at full length. All drama in the film is solved too easily. The major points of struggle the characters endure last seconds before they are resolved in usually the very next scene, or the same scene. In a movie about human psychology and seemingly giant stakes, the film, ironically, lacks psychology and fails to get its audience involved. Most of the film’s conflict takes place in dreams. The real-life conflicts in the film bang on the same point long after the nail is in the coffin.
The film expects its audience to fill in the blanks.
This is very good.
What is not good is the fact that the film gives the audience little to fill in the blanks with. The film, throughout its entire running time, gives its audience a cup of water to fill in an entire empty swimming pool. Every conversation is abrupt, the longest one lasting possibly a maximum of two minutes. Besides the main character’s Wife, Daughter, and Friend, all other characters have one to two scenes in the whole film, allowing no depth or insight. The main character’s reactions and responses to all of those other characters is the same for the entire film. What psychology and emotions there may be in the film we are not given the chance to see.
‘Take Shelter’ is not without its wonderful moments. It’s just that in the end those great moments do not go anywhere. The film seems to think it is more than it actually is.
It is a stiff corpse – a Mummy. All of its secrets are wrapped tight under layers. All we can do it stare at it and wonder what is underneath.