Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols
Running time: 120 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 25th November 2011
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 16th September 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is another of those films that has sat on the back burner for quite a while now. I remember it coming out and being very well received by the critics; it was duly put on ‘The List’. Of course it never played at the local cinema and so a TV viewing became the preferred option. I have to say, for the most part, I am in agreement with the critics on this one; it is very good, but in a very understated way. I will explain more after this very brief summary.
Curtis is being bothered by bad dreams; dreams in which a giant storm causes people to go mad and do harm to each other. He wants to protect his family; wife Samantha and daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Becoming quite obsessed, he takes out a loan and extends the storm shelter they have behind their house. He does all this without consulting Samantha and she begins to worry about him. Curtis is also worried because there is a history of schizophrenia in his family; his mother was diagnosed with it in her thirties. To this end he goes to the doctor and he recommends a psychiatrist but Curtis is worried about the money and ends up seeing a councillor instead. All this begins to affect his work and Curtis finds himself in trouble with his boss. They had just heard that Hannah can have surgery to help with her hearing, but it all hangs on Curtis’s medical insurance through work. Has he had a glimpse into an apocalyptic future, or is he going mad?... Well, I’ll wager you know I’m not going to tell you here.
First of all I’ll throw out a little praise for the guys that did the sound design. I only listened to it in stereo and it was nice to actually hear different sounds coming from the two main speakers. It’s usually so badly mixed that it just sounds mono, but this was actually thought about and mixed properly (for a change); well done! Now on to the performances, well both Michael Shannon as Curtis and Jessica Chastain as Samantha were truly excellent; I found I could easily connect with both of their characters. They were ably supported by Shea Whigham as Curtis’s workmate Dewart and Tova Stewart as their daughter Hannah.
The film has a very slow deliberate pace and time is taken to explore all of Curtis’s actions. At one point he even sits down with Samantha and fully explains just what has been going on; his fears and frustrations and what he thinks might happen. It’s a scene you would never usually get in a film of this type and I’m very glad to see it here. At first I found it quite hard to sympathise with Curtis, but as it went on and we knew more about his thoughts, I came around. It’s a film I would certainly like to see again at some point; I’m sure there is much I missed. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those that like this kind of thing I urge you to give it a look; you won’t be disappointed.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 8.3/10
IMDb Score: 7.5/10 (based on 27,305 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 85/100: (Based on 33 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 80/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 17,420 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Curtis: Is anyone seeing this?
Curtis: [ranting angrily at a roomful of neighbours] Sleep well in your beds. 'Cause if this thing comes true, there ain't gonna be any more.
Curtis: You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up, there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.
Curtis: [urging] Sam.