Title: Gimme Shelter
HTS Overall Score:70
It wasn’t that long ago that Vanessa Hudgens was dancing and singing her way into the hearts of Americans as Gabriella, one of the stars of Disney’s High School Musical series. Some young actors can be pigeonholed by a role like that, forever trapped in the publics’ mind as a memorable character...apparently that won’t be the case for Hudgens. Whether purposeful or not, Hudgens’ 2013 acting campaign featured two roles requiring her to portray characters wandering through the darkness of life. First she was a 17 year old hooker in Frozen Ground, and now she’s the down-and-out “Apple” in Gimme Shelter. If you haven’t have taken notice, you should. This woman has major league talent.
Apple is a rough and tumble teen and her life, to put it bluntly, stinks. Her mother (Rosario Dawson) is a welfare dependent prostitute and drug addict with nasty yellow teeth. She’s about as unmotherly as they come, possessed by anger and chemical demons. Her father, as far as Apple is concerned, doesn’t exist. She’s never met him. At a young age, Apple became a customer of the system, bouncing between various shelters, foster homes, and her mother’s place, all of which inflicted tremendous emotional and physical tolls.
Hudgens brings a gritty street feel to Apple’s presence. She has a thick New York accent, uncomfortable piercings in her face, a weary stare, and a nonchalant boyish gait. In the film’s opening scene it’s obvious that Apple has reached a tipping point in her life and she’s made the decision to leave her mother once and for all. With the clothes on her back and a handful of money, she breaks free and begins a journey to the suburbs of Jersey.
One of Apple’s few possessions is an unopened letter written to her by her father, Tom Fitzpatrick (Brendan Fraser). She uses it to track him down and arrives, unannounced, at his palatial suburban home. He’s a wealthy Wall Street banker with an awful haircut, happily married with two small children. Initially the Fiztpatrick’s are stunned, not knowing what to make of Apple’s arrival. While Tom wrestles with his conscious, his wife wants her out of the house. Tom ultimately wins, though, and Apple has a new home (temporarily, at least).
As you can tell, Apple’s life has been a train wreck of sadness and misfortune and just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. She discovers she's pregnant. Without consulting with Apple, the Fitzpatrick’s drag her to an abortion clinic and arrange for her procedure, but Apple has other plans and runs back to the streets. After several nights of living in cars and dumpster diving, she eventually meets a priest (James Earl Jones) who provides her guidance, persuading her to seek shelter at a home for pregnant teens run by a woman named Kathy (Ann Dowd). Kathy is just the kind of person Apple needs: concerned, caring, and tough. Apple has trouble letting her guard down, but eventually gives-in to the other teen mothers in the shelter and opens herself to friendship. She also finally gathers the courage to read the contents of the unopened letter from her father, a move that changes her life forever.
Director and writer Ron Krauss drew inspiration for the script from a real life woman named Kathy DiFore. She’s a New Jersey native that operates shelters for pregnant girls. Krauss, according to the film’s extras, actually lived in one of DiFore’s shelters as he wrote, drawing inspiration for Apple’s character from several different residents. The result is an incredibly dark storyline that tugs at the heart strings by effectively conveying overwhelming odds and a sense of aloneness that Apple experiences as she desperately tries to establish some sense of stability. Unfortunately the film is a bit clunky in its execution. In many regards it has a made-for-TV feel, lacking a polished flow and character development. Outside of Hudgens performance, many of the characters are hollow and merely functionally present; dialog is often forced and rather bland. It's a shame, because the weight of the storyline is far more impressive than the actual delivery of the film. In that regard, Krauss gives us a dud wrapped with intensely sobering subject matter.
PG-13 for mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence, and language — all concerning teens.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/gs3.jpg[/img]Lionsgate delivers Gimme Shelter on Blu-ray with a 2.35:1 hi-def MPEG-4 AVC encode. Originally shot on Super 16, the film has a soft grainy appearance that gives it an artsy cinematic quality, which adds to the dark and distressed realities of Apple’s life. The color palate is neutral, with tones that tend to be slightly washed-out. Flesh tones border on appearing unnatural; characters look overly pale and sickly in some cases. Blacks are smooth and inky and greens are notably pleasing. Fine detail is evident throughout the presentation, occasionally hidden by the film’s softness and grain. Shadow detail is excellent, even in the darkest of scenes. The overall image quality is fairly consistent from scene to scene, with only one instance of thin bands of lines noticeably visible on one side of the image.
All-in-all, a solid transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news//gs4.jpg[/img]Gimme Shelter features a front-heavy DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix that is middling at best, but not detrimental to the overall dramatic presentation of the film. For a dialog rich drama, the film does a fairly good job of assigning sound to the rears, including the film’s sound track which reliably emerges from the rear channels for a warm and enveloping effect (effectively increasing the intensity of several scenes). In fact, the dynamic edge of the audio presentation is largely carried by the soundtrack and supporting musical tracks, supplemented by some audio subtleties (such as the creaks of a wheel chair and doors, and the rustling of clothing) that help to give the overall experience a nuanced depth. Directionality of effects is also well done, with a notable highway scene that has cars and trucks whizzing through the soundstage. Dialog is rich and intelligible from start to finish. Low frequency effects are used sparingly, only emerging during a few scenes featuring hip-hop music and a booming thunderstorm.
• Making of Gimme Shelter
• Deleted Scenes
• Coming Attractions (Also from Lionsgate)
Gimme Shelter is a tough sell as a movie to recommend. On the one hand, it delves into some incredibly intense subject material. It’s hard to fathom a childhood as scarred and bruised as Apple’s, and it's difficult to watch her struggle with loneliness, pain, and hopelessness. On the other, the film is hampered by a very basic, almost predictable, presentation. I mentioned it has a “made-for-TV” feel (think: Lifetime), lacking the grandness and smart depth that Hollywood releases typically flaunt. Vanessa Hudgens’ performance dampens that somewhat, but the rest of the cast aren’t given an opportunity to adequately support her efforts. The release’s audio and video qualities are more than serviceable, but fall short of being noteworthy. This movie is, at best, rental material. However, viewer beware...only tackle this one if you enjoy dark dramas.
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser
Directed by: Ron Krauss
Written by: Ron Krauss
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Runtime: 101 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 29, 2014
Buy Gimme Shelter on Blu-ray at Amazon