120 minutes| U.S.A.| 2011| Colour| D-Cinema

Michael Shannon is a husband, father, hard worker and worried man in this marvellously evocative psychological drama from writer-director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories), who’s clearly a talent to watch. It’s literally raining oil, there are crazy people on the roads, the darkening skies are a promise . . . of what exactly? Something’s coming, some personal apocalypse or global catastrophe – every time Shannon closes his eyes he sees it, and supportive spouse Jessica Chastain is powerless to convince him otherwise.

Having made considerable impact in Revolutionary Road and Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, Shannon here affirms himself as one of the most powerful screen actors of his generation, utterly convincing as his fears intensify, not least when he connects his unquiet psyche to the bitter history of his institutionalised mother (Kathy Baker, tremendous). Nichols’ film devastatingly sustains a daringly ambiguous unease, its very lack of certitude a telling metaphorical expression for the edgy times in which we all find ourselves. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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