Coming to theatres this Friday from director/writer Ron Krauss and Roadside Attractions comes the story of a life that asks to GIMME SHELTER.
This film tells the story of Agnes ‘Apple’ Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens), a teenage girl who understands the ugliness of street life. When enough is enough, Apple tries to escape mother June (Rosario Dawson) who is a drug addict and prostitute.
Apple decides its time to track down her father Tom Fitzpatrick (Brendan Fraser), a man she has never met. Dad is a Wall Street broker and has a wife and children living a life Apple could never have imagined.
Life changes once again when the teen discovers she is pregnant. Not being able to adjust to life with her father, she leaves again and meets Father McCarthy (James Earl Jones). He convinces her to go to a shelter for girls who are either pregnant or have had their babies.
Run by Kathy (Ann Dowd), Apple begins to discover more about what it takes to be not only a mother but also a whole person. Taking on the issues with her mother and working on a relationship with her father is the biggest challenge of her life.
FINAL WORD: Hudgens as Apple gives a performance I’m sure no one will be expecting. This is a dark role to play, as this character must find the courage to walk away from a mother she wants to love but without the anchor that can drown her.
Dawson as June is riveting and sorrowful to watch. There is so much defeat in this character as the lifestyle she chooses brings out the worst in being Apple’s mother. The scene at the shelter between Dawson and Hudgens is not only memorable but also striking as their relationship becomes defined for Apple’s character.
Fraser as Dad Tom is a man who is so far removed from the life he had at 19. There is plenty of blame to go around between Mom and Dad and their parental abilities but Apple is looking, clearly, for the love of one sane parent. The last car scene between Fraser and Hudgens is not only touching but offers a hope that both father and daughter might have a chance – but with time.
Jones as Father McCarthy is a small role yet poignant as Apple is in the company of someone, who for the first time, doesn’t want to hurt her. That is important given how he and Apple meet. Dowd as Kathy is not only sweet but firm knowing that the girls have to do the emotional work if they are going to succeed.
Other cast includes: Stephanie Szostak as Joanna Fitzpatrick, Dascha Polanco as Carmel, Emily Meade as Cassandra, Candace Smith as Marie Abeanni, Tashiana Washington as Destiny, Laneya Wiles as Jasmine, and Rachel Amberson as Nicky.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give GIMME SHELTER three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This is an intense story of a young girl who comes from a place that seems to be becoming more prominent in society. As the story unfolds and the pregnancy comes to light it truly becomes everyone’s issue for concern.
Hudgens gives the character of Apple a face that is more recognizable than viewers might like. This could be any girl coming from a home with a history of drugs, etc. The best part of this film is that the character of Apple, after fighting through her clearly understandable anger, finds that one moment of clarity for herself that is the difference between continuing a pattern and taking a new path.
The entire cast works together to bring the film to a completely striking conclusion. I do wish, however, that the film had a wider reach. This is the kind of film that is begging to be played before a teen audience, which I’m not sure it will find in the theatre. Please GIMME SHELTER; feel free to prove me wrong because I’d be thrilled!
In the end – sometimes you have to leave home to find your family.
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