Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gimme Shelter (movie review)

"Gimme Shelter" stars Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, James Earl Jones, and Brendan Frasier. The synposis is basically that a teenage girl from a really rough, abusive home flees to her wealthy father she's never known. She finds out she's with child and is left with a huge decision to make. Ultimately she runs away and ends up in the hospital where a very persistent priest takes her under his wing. He leads her to a shelter for teenage moms where she has the chance at making a family.

Rosario Dawson as June Bailey
image via Grace Hill Media
While viewing this movie at home wasn't as glamorous as a premiere may have been, I appreciate the opportunity to screen this movie at all. What a heartbreaking tale. Teenage pregnancy really hits home as my older sister and I were born to our mother very early in life. She was tenacious and provided us with every earthly thing that we needed. We didn't have a lot growing up, even when my parents married but it's been a good life. That is not so for many teenage mothers and children born to those moms. Many of those children end up in the foster care system or in abusive situations (while I'm not saying this happens in all cases - I know that many teenage mothers can and do provide loving atmospheres for their child(ren) - it does happen probably more often than not). It's sad to see so many young women in situations that they may not have chosen themselves.

We worked with foster kids, teenage boys, for awhile before Squirt was born, and many of them were born to teenage mothers. Anyway, it's a rough situation for the main character in this film, Apple, who is portrayed by Hudgens. She is 16 and lives with her drug-addicted mother (Dawson, who is awesome in her portrayal - scary but awesome). She drums up the courage to run away - I can't even imagine how much guts just that took to break the cycle.

She ends up at her father's house (Frasier whose character grew on me as the film went on). Then the cycle of teenage motherhood continues with her finding out she's pregnant. Her stepmother is so mean at this point in the film! Apple is taken to an abortion clinic but runs away; she wants her baby! She understands that this is a baby inside with a face and a heartbeat, not merely a fetus or tissue.

Vanessa Hudgens as Agnes "Apple" Bailey
image via Grace Hill Media
There's a really scary scene where a man approaches her, calling her shorty, demanding she get in his vehicle. And in another really brave moment, she steals his car (ok...morally wrong but smart on her part given the situation), and ends up wrecking it. She wakes in the hospital where a priest (Jones) awaits her awakening. He tries to befriend her and is really persistent given her hard-hearted nature.

He helps her get into this shelter (Several Sources Shelter) for teenage girls who are pregnant or moms. What an amazing place. Right before the car accident, I was thinking to myself, 'why couldn't she have found a nice couple to take her in like in "The Blind Side"?' It just makes me sad to think that this is a real situation this girl found herself in.

James Earl Jones as Father Frank McCarthy
image via Grace Hill Media
This shelter with all of these teenage moms and babies becomes her home.

There's, of course, more to the movie, and I don't think I've given away anything not covered in the synopsis or movie trailer. There were some amazing performances in this movie. Hudgens doesn't look anything like the girl in "High School Musical" or "Beastly." She really spread her acting wings in this film; her family must be so proud of her performance. I think she gave real depth to Apple and made her so that even in her hateful moments, you want to love her.

Dawson was amazing as Apple's mother. I didn't even recognize her until the end credits! I wouldn't want to meet this lady on the streets! I wish there was more to the film during her stay at the shelter, so you could connect more with the other moms. There really isn't time for it in this film and so you don't really feel her connection or sense of home there. I can't even recall any of the other girls' names!

Frasier was perfect in his role and Jones as a priest is very believable. I wish there was more of a spiritual transformation in Apple's character. You see her heart soften during her pregnancy but no real commitment to the Lord. Sorry if that's a spoiler but I just was really disappointed in that. I don't know if the real Apple has a relationship with Christ but I pray so! It was lovely to see her call out to the Lord, even if He worked in a way she didn't understand or like. God being used in a positive manner (even His names being said properly) in a Hollywood film is amazing - a miracle these days!

You will love this film. You will cry and be angry. And you will hope right alongside Apple. Amazing!! Go see "Gimme Shelter." It opens nationwide January 24, 2014. It's rated PG-13 and runs 101 minutes.

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