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Great acting and visuals, stupid story, sloppy direction
on 24 February 2015
Great acting, cinematography and special effects, but a story that's so stupid it ruins it all. What a waste of talent, technology and money.
A steady, plodding descent into insanity, with what must be the dumbest ending in the history of the movies tacked on out of nowhere. Sloppy direction doesn't help, with stupid, avoidable goofs like vehicles parked where nobody would park them; a Midwestern small-town library open on a Sunday morning; a large, energetic male dog who has never been confined but stays inside a tiny fence so flimsy a rabbit could knock it down; and other trivial mistakes happen so often that they become a serious distraction.
One huge mistake that's not trivial at all is the unbelievable married couple at the center of this movie. It's absurd that a lovely, intelligent, emotionally balanced woman like Samantha ever looked twice at a surly, egocentric nut like Curtis, much less married him.
Unlike similar movies in which the protagonist does alarming things no one else can understand, like Close Encounters, Curtis is never shown here as a normal person, as a character we get to know a little bit and therefore care about. From the very beginning, he's sullen and introverted, completely closed down emotionally and inaccessible not only to his wife and child but to us. Of course a person so profoundly crippled is going to fall apart, but he's so remote and unappealing that it's hard to care.
So the overriding question in this suspense thriller is not "What is really happening?" or "How will this end?" but "Why should we care?" I didn't. Despite very strong acting and visuals, Take Shelter is tedious and unbelievable for almost two hours, and then infuriating at the end.