Film Review: Shelter

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Dan Hopchet on 5 Apr 2010

Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein have had numerous accounts of success in Sweden, both in TV and otherwise, but Shelter marks their first leap into a Hollywood production. Some may say it’s just a late repercussion of the writers’ strike of 2008. Regardless, their product of a thriller turned supernatural hunt works in all the ways it wants to, but won’t leave anyone with deep thoughts.

Following her career goal of disproving the “pop psychology” fiction about real-life multiple personality disorder, single mother Cara (Julianne Moore) is introduced to Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) by her father as a case that counters all her hypotheses. As she investigates Adam and his personalities, the real truth behind his authenticity and how it ties to the sickness secretly threatening her friends and
family is unveiled.

The main draw of a movie of this discipline, besides the teasing plot, is the protagonist. Julianne Moore is certainly a strong candidate for the position. She easily pulls the viewers to rally behind her with her conviction and precision, only faltering when she tries too hard with scenes with no space for her to discharge her substantial focus. Rhys Meyers as Adam (and all the other personas) is quite entertaining. He knows he is more a device to the story than a key player, but accepts these parameters and toys with them as best he can, especially with the later personalities. Surrounded by a solid supporting cast, with short scenes divided between them, the cast more than carry what they need to for the film to work.

Written by Michael Cooney, the only real complaint for this flick besides the lull at the start of the fourth act is the disappointing attempt to challenge thoughts about many of the possible themes from a movie about religion and multiple personalities. Though the gimmicks at play are all mystical in nature, believability is never pulled too thin and the characters never blindly do as they’re needed.

The camera work is what really makes the movie stand out. The directing team pull out all the stops they know of to create a result of jumps and reveals at the pace they are fully in control of. Fans of supernatural thrillers will have all their requests served up on a platter. The cinematography is by no measure safe, but it’s not exactly stretching standards either and maybe their next foray will see them experiment with more resolve.

Layering an effective but fleeting score on top of the camera work forms Shelter into an entertaining ride and good for chilling jumps, but once the film ends, no one will be asking any questions about faith and dichotomy, which sadly are left unexplored. Nor will they be asking anything more of the actors and production team.


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