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4.6 out of 5 stars122
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 30 June 2008
If 'Tan Lines' wasn't what you you hoped it would be, then 'Shelter' is definitely the film for you. The gay surfer movie that people have wanted to see since 'Point Break', it's a classic love story, in a sunny California setting.

Zach (Trevor Wright) is the 22 year old protagonist; he missed out on an art college scholarship, and is stuck working in a diner in a dead-end town. He spends his free time doing street art, surfing, and looking after his (stunning) 5 year old nephew, Cody. This family obligation has been foisted upon him by circumstances: his older sister, Cody's mother, has a string of self-destructive relationships and addictions. Though constrained by this obligation, Zach is like a father to Cody and puts that bond above his own aspirations.

Enter the man who will change Zach's life: Shaun (Brad Rowe) - the confidently gay, older brother of Zach's best friend. Shaun understands Zach in a way that no one else has done, seeing through his tough-guy front. The two men instantly connect, and spend time surfing and taking care of Cody. One drunken night leads to a kiss between them...internal conflict and raw emotions ensue, as Zach wrestles with his desires, while trying to accommodate his familial duties and the limitations of his own self-image.

If this plot-line sounds vaguely unoriginal, it is. All the expected story arcs are present, from the initial shock and brooding self-analysis, to the supportive ex-girlfriend. Added to which are the expected polemics: rich v. poor; urban concrete v. beach and waves; ties of family obligation v. the lure of romantic love. In fact, there is nothing unpredictable about 'Shelter'. Nonetheless, all this is easily forgiven - because the story just 'works' so beautifully. It has it all: a handsome cast (who fill out their wetsuits nicely), sparkling chemistry between the protagonists, moody sunsets, the glittering ocean, moments of humour, and base human desires; all underscored by a poignant soundtrack.

Even the hardened 'not-another-coming-out-movie' cynic will find 'Shelter' an emotive, heart-warming, tear-jerker. A life-affirming, classic love story, with excellent, authentic performances from the cast, 'Shelter' will undoubtedly be a instant hit.

[Amended 02/09/2008]
66 comments110 of 114 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 2 August 2008
This is a great movie. It bypasses heart stopping action, mystery, murder and fantastical drama to spend its eighty four minutes building a simple and honest love story; and that's what it delivers. The story is generic; boy meets boy and consequently boy tries to come to terms with the ever complicating sexual feelings he is starting to discover are buried just beneath the surface, while fearful of the judgements of the people around him.

Of course it is a coming-out story that has been told a multitude of times, but Shelter has something more. The soundtrack is great and compliments the chilled out atmosphere of the film, the actors are convincing and create characters with depth, worthy of investing emotions in, and the setting is a cool, visually appealing mixture of surf and sand. There is also a constant underlying artistic presence which comes from the main character, Zach, a talented street artist. His work is visually beautiful and used effectively as a device to express the character's feelings throughout the journey.

So Zach is reacquainted with Shaun, his best friend's older brother and an acknowledged homosexual...ensue all the beauty and drama of Zach's self discovery. The addition of a child, Zach's nephew Cody, and his unfavourable circumstances, is that extra element that really adds to the emotion of the movie as we see how Zach, Shaun, Cody's mother and her impatient boyfriend react to the boy's presence. It subtly questions the pertinence of sexuality as a deciding factor in the suitability of a parental figure as it pits an example of a loving, homosexual relationship against an example of a dysfunctional heterosexual one, with the young child drifting between the two.

The wait to find out if Zach will escape his destructive home life to the safety of his blossoming romance is not exactly edge of the seat stuff, but the performances and the emotions they conjure in the viewer are enough to make you hope that he will. This movie is the homogenous love story it appears to be, but it is an extremely accomplished version, which is beautiful and grounded whilst still heartbreakingly sad and definitely a rewarding watch.
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on 3 December 2011
This movie is written, and acted very well. It is not one of your cookie cutter gay movies. It's a drama about a straight young man from the poor side of town , is stuck taking care of his nephew, due to an absent sister and other family members. The young man is a surfer and best friends with his rich friend from the other side of the tracks. When his best friend goes away to college, he uses his rich friends house to go surfing. One day he unexpectedly comes upon his best friends older brother, who has now returned home from Los Angeles. The older friends brother is out and gay. From there the story turns into this flirty coming of age story where both the straight guy and older brother's best friend start falling in love. This blu-ray has an excellent picture. I had the dvd and this is a vast improvement with analmost perfect picture quality. It has DTS-MA 5.1 English soundtrack which also is very clear dialogue and great for the music within the movie. This is a must have gay movie. No stereotypes, no flagrant sex or nudity. Just a well written and acted film about two young men falling in love and staying together, something that is very hard to find with any gay movie. 10 STARS!!!
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on 29 July 2008
This is a very good movie, telling a great basic and romantic love story. It just rings true and you know it if you ever really fell in love. The core of the story is very real, although the wrapping may be too sunny. Even for Southern California (and I lived there for 11 years). One whishes that life could be sometimes so beautiful. But one goes to the movies for that too. The cast is wonderful and Trevor Wright is that perfect dreamboy you can't look at him without loving him. One of those gay movies that deserves a wider audience and stays with you for a long time.
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on 11 January 2012
I originally bought this film as a spur of the moment sort of thing but it is by far one of the greatest films I have ever purchased and to be honest it is worth far more than £8.99!

It has a great story and I was particularly surprised at the quality of the filming and acting (it is very good to say the least).

The story is actually quite touching and sweet aswell and it is not at all trashy like a lot of gay films. This is a must buy film and I highly recommend it!
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on 27 August 2008
I've been waiting for this film to be released on DVD in the UK ever since it was recommended to me by friends in the US. I've watched it several times online and it's already become one of my favourites. It's a beautifully written universal story about choosing between the obligations of your family and following your heart, backed up by great acting, stunning scenery and a gorgeous soundtrack (Shane Mack is definitely a name to watch for the future). An instant classic.
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on 6 December 2014
I've seen many, many movies with a gay storyline over the years, and this is only the forth one that I would call "good". Its a lovely movie with a stunning main actor who can actually act - a rarity in movies made for the pink dollar. The plot is a bit generic, but very believable.

Growing up as an average male in an overly hetero world and realising you're gay is something many young guys face in their life. This movie tells this story extremely well.

I bought the Blu Ray from Amazon UK and it arrived very quickly. The quality of both sound and picture are outstanding. I'm very pleased I opted for the Blu Ray, the picture quality is gorgeous.

By the way, the other gay movies I think are excellent are "Making Love" (from way back in 1980, the first ever mainstream film that looked at gays sensitively), "Maurice" (the best gay film ever made) and the now-classic "Torch Song Trilogy". "Shelter" can proudly stand next to those great films.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
With plenty of Californian sunshine, good-looking surfers, and a poignant tale of boy-meets-boy, what's not to like? Cute, working-class boy Zach (played by Trevor Wright), surfer-dude, skater-boy, and street-artist, wants to get an art-school scholarship. But life - largely in the shape of his older sister and her babysitting requirements - is not playing ball. But then Zach meets again an old friend called Sean, played by Brad Rowe who has the feel of a slimline Brad Pitt before the latter got podgy.

For the first thirty minutes of this film, we're just living the life, and things consequently start to bore, but then matters get interesting as Zach's closer involvement with Sean leads him to question where his own life is going and to build a more positive future.

This is a comfortable film, as comfortable as the actors are playing their parts. It ultimately has a feel-good factor, but is no great shakes in the realms of gay cinema. The only extra is a gallery.
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on 12 April 2014
If, like me, you've bought too many gay films in the hope that the story, production values/skills, and acting will all contribute to a great film, but felt that one or more of those values kind of let the film down, then this is the film for you: it will renew your faith in gay film.
Shelter will fill your heart with love and happiness. Have you ever left the cinema unable to supress that kind of joy which arises when you've just seen one fantastic film? Well, I'm pretty sure that you will give a punch to the air at the same time as having a tear streaming down your cheek at the end of this film. There are little touches - such as the smile on the younger guy's face after his first night with his lover - which will take you back to how it felt for you when things were going great and your life might just turn out how you had imagined it. Whether it did or it didn't, this film will return you to what love feels like when your wishes come true.
Buy it now!
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on 25 April 2011
I don't like the main review on Amazon, it makes the film sound trite and formulaic. So I'm adding this review a year or so since I bought Shelter with the advantage that I can say I've watched it a good few times since.

Shelter is - without being cloying and clichéd - an unashamedly romantic love story that is positive and life-affirming. On the face of it, it may give the impression of being a stereotypical gay romance but I don't think categorising it as such does it justice. Jonah Markowitz's script is intelligent and subtle, giving dimension to the story and it's characters where most films disappoint, especially I'm afraid to say, most gay films. His directing debut is surprisingly accomplished and gives an appreciable sense of place and time. The central characters of Zack and Shaun (beautifully acted by Trevor Wright and Brad Rowe) have a history to their attraction which gives their relationship and subsequent love affair a continuity and believability that the main review misses in its arch `they hit the surf and Shaun's mattress with equal enthusiasm', suggesting as it does, thoughtless promiscuous abandon.

Other characters - Gabe(Ross Thomas) his best friend and the `jock', Tori(Katie Walder) his beautiful school sweetheart and Jeanne(Tina Holmes) his wayward elder sister - could all have been awful one dimensional caricatures but Markowitz draws them with sympathy and empathy so they surprise you with their actions against type - but only in a `filmic' sense, because I was left thinking that actually, yes, most people are like that in real life and are not one dimensional - they can be kind and understanding, selfish and thoughtless, prejudiced or cruel, all wrapped up in one complicated person, and more often than not, their humanity ultimately comes through.

I should also mention the songs of Shane Mack on the soundtrack which was an inspired choice - I'd never heard him before and bought the soundtrack on the strength of his songs alone, although I'm not so keen on the `fillers'.

So that's me: hopelessly romantic, or at least, I can be, and so is Shelter, and although light-hearted, there is a lot of art apparent in the making of it and I don't think it will disappoint.
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