Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2012
A blue-collar everyman, a hardworking, loving husband and father, begins to have unsettling nightmares and daydreams about impending events ranging from the merely bizarre, like being attacked by the docile family dog, to the outright cataclysmic, namely a monster storm of unprecedented fury. Is he prescient or just going mad? His mother has been institutionalized with paranoid schizophrenia since her mid-30s, and he doesn’t know whether to protect his family from these literally dreamt-up perils…or from himself. Trying to cover both possibilities, he seeks counseling while preparing for the worst, undertaking an expensive expansion and provisioning of his home’s tornado shelter. The underrated Michael Shannon is spot-on in the lead, invoking with just his intense eyes a sense of deep malaise, and the most excellent Jessica Chastain plays his wife. It’s all entertaining enough, even haunting, but what makes this movie special is the way it uncannily taps into a kind of shared anxiety in the world at large these days that something is, well, not quite right. This original, enigmatic movie from writer/director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories), a filmmaker to watch, starts out scary and just gets scarier.