Magazine article Screen International

Shelter

Magazine article Screen International

Shelter

Article excerpt

Dir: Paul Bettany. US. 2014. 105mins

The glossy bleakness of actor Paul Bettany's directorial debut Shelter (which he also scripted) is often at odds with his well-intentioned attempt to tell the moving story of how two homeless people coming from very different world find some kind of support and hope with each other. It is a great pair of roles for Jennifer Connelly (who, of course, is married to Bettany) and Anthony Mackie, though despite being beautifully shot it is often familiar fare that ticks lots of cliché boxes.

Connelly and Mackie are impressive. He plays Tahir as a calm and compassionate man with a dark past, while Connelly has the somewhat showier role as an addict who uses drugs as a way of dealing with her issues.

A rather tender love story set against the backdrop of the dour Manhattan streets, Bettany attempts to pull off the hard trick of adding romance to what at heart is a sad and rather grim story of two disenfranchised types. The film is littered with beautifully framed shots and moments of magical realism, all balanced dashes of gritty realism. It may well be a hard sell despite the high profile casting of Connelly and Mackie, though festivals may be interested.

Hannah (Connelly) and Tahir (Mackie) slowly bond when they meet on the streets. He wants to help her with her drug addiction, and while initially defensive she comes to rely on his help and support. She slowly reveals the traumas of her past while he is more secretive his origins. After stealing food they escape over rooftops and - rather conveniently - squat in a plush apartment, and start to live an almost ordinary life, dressing in the owners' clothes, sipping fine wine, and dreaming of what could be. …

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