Gimme Shelter

Movie Review #851: ‘Gimme Shelter’ is no classic, but it’s highlighted by a solid performance.

By Alexander Diminiano


Rated PG-13 (contains mature themes, depiction of abuse, violence, drug content, profanity)
101 minutes

The film is an independent drama, and for most of the movie, it takes into consideration just how depraved the life of sixteen-year-old Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) is. Her mother has been arrested for drugs, and she’s been from shelter to shelter. Her mother’s just gotten back from jail when the story opens up, and Apple runs away. She hopes to build a better life for herself, but instead discovers that she is pregnant, and now has two lives to support. The cutting, visceral imagery and tour de force performance by Hudgens emphasize just what a horrible life it is the character is living, and it’s more convincingly a true story than most other dramas in recent memory.

But that’s just the first hour of the movie. The rest of the movie just wants to be uplifting, and while I guess it was to some extent, it becomes extremely superficial. The remainder of the movie serves the same purpose as a fundraiser for pregnant teenage girls. It’s not the fact that “Gimme Shelter” is cinema’s most pro-humanitarian movie of the year, but that it tries so damn hard to claim that title, that makes its last forty minutes cloying and unconvincing.

“Gimme Shelter” is a mixed bag. The talent here seems ironical. Vanessa Hudgens’s performance is utterly transformative, and even worth an Oscar (which she was eligible for last year). Just two years ago, I thought her to be one of the most talentless actresses in modern film, and perhaps one I’d be quickest to forget. Yet players such as Rosario Dawson, James Earl Jones, and Brendan Fraser range from wooden to obnoxious in their performances. It’s as if these three have absolutely no talent. It’s as if they’re making way for the rising star, and for some reason, I see no problem with this. This certainly was not the same Vanessa Hudgens that started her career in “High School Musical”.


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