Something really bad is coming, an impending apocalypse and only Curtis (Michael Shannon) can see it on the horizon. His Mom was institutionalized after a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia when he was ten, however, so are his dreams a prophecy of the future or his own mental facilities starting to fail?
Stuck in the chaos is his loving wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) who want to support him and tries to understand what he's going through, but can feel his distance and fear, and can't avoid his increasingly bizarre, erratic and random behavior. When Curtis spends the money they need for their daughter's cochlear implant on an expanded storm shelter in their rural Ohio backyard, it's the last straw and Samantha leaves. But is he right? Is there a storm heading their way?
Take Shelter is a powerful film about mental illness that uses a very atypical narrative approach. There's a level of ambiguity throughout the film that leaves you wondering whether the apocalyptic visions are foreshadowing the future or whether we're witnessing a blue collar construction worker in rural America break down, day by day.
It's all too easy for a filmmaker to oversimplify the anguish and confusion of a mental illness, just as alcoholics "just stop drinking" in movies, or bigots "just see the light" and reform. Were the film to have just a slightly shorter running time and ended just a few minutes earlier than it does, Take Shelter would be a powerful and provocatively ambiguous movie about mental illness, but the final scenes that suggest one ending, then switch to another, highly ambiguous one hurt the story a bit too much for me to recommend this without reservation, though I still felt it was quite compelling.