Take Shelter ★★★★

I wasn’t entirely sold on Nichols’ Shotgun Stories, but this second feature, which sees him switching inspiration from Greek tragedy to Biblical parable, suggests a second look is in order. Michael Shannon, giving a superb performance reminiscent of Robert Duvall’s best, plays a man convinced by his nightmares that a judgment day of sorts is coming. We’re made privy to his hallucinations, and Shannon’s work makes us aware of the tragic consequences that ensue when a man of action has to respond to a situation that he can’t fix with his hands. I am a sucker for male melodrama, and this worked me over. Scenes, such as the one in which we see the protagonist arrive at his counselor having already done his homework, are heartbreakers. Indeed, the very premise, in which we are asked to watch a family disintegrate merely out of an obsessive desire to protect said family, is potent stuff.