Dear Take Shelter,
A lot of movies thrive on ambiguity. From characters with questionable motives to the fluid, elusive nature of “the truth,” movies make a habit of using the concept of subjective perspective as a means of creating conflict and interest. However, most movies just live off the mystery, never seeking to explore the meaning behind it, or what that lack of clarity means to the world or characters at large.
You, though, exist as an exercise in trying to see how far this manipulation of tone and perspective can be taken as a means of emotional storytelling. Your story depends on the constant questioning of the sanity and actions of your main character, Curtis, but does not make that question the sole crutch of the story. Instead, you use it as a means of exploring a stranger, more elemental question regarding life, faith, and commitment. This narrative of uncertainty begins its life as a mystery before morphing into something much more deep, meaningful, and complex.
You do suffer from some sluggishness in your second act, but between the subtle, measured intricacies of your story and tone, and the skill of your actors – who create layered, empathetic characters – you are still well worth seeing. Your director, Jeff Nichols, evinces a skill and restraint that make me eager to see what else he is capable of.
With boundless admiration,
Brian J. Roan