Gimme Shelter (2013) Blu-ray Review
Vanessa Hudgens has been on a roll of late, depending on your point of view. She has certainly succeeded if her primary goal is to be remembered as the rogue member of the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL cast. Whatever glitz and glamour that used to be attached to her name have been fully stomped out by her string of ‘wounded by strong’ roles in FROZEN GROUND, SPRING BREAKERS, SUCKER PUNCH, and the newly released to Blu-ray GIMME SHELTER. In each of these films Hudgens has taken roles nearly identical – abused and/or mistreated young women (at least in their minds) who rise out of their situations to find another life. GIMME SHELTER is no exception to this standard and Hudgens plays the role with nearly identical angst.
GIMME SHELTER is the story of Agnes ‘Apple’ Bailey (Hudgens), a young woman who was abused by her drug-addict mother (a nearly unrecognizable Rosario Dawson) and who spent most of her life in and out of the foster care system. When she leaves her mother’s poisoned environment to find her father (a strangely bemused Brendan Fraser) she thinks she has briefly found acceptance, until they wish her to abort her unborn child. Running away yet again, she nearly falls back into the world from which she had just escaped when she meets a caring stranger who changes her life by offering her an alternative to the only world she has known.
The ‘based on a true story’ moniker at the start of the film is a bit misleading – GIMME SHELTER is likely based on the shelter where Apple ultimately finds a loving home, but the film presents this key shift in Apple’s life as just another in a list of things that happened to her instead of focusing on the shelter and the real woman (Kathy Fiore, played by Ann Dowd) who started caring for young pregnant girls from the streets. Fiore’s story, which is what this movie attempts to tell in the way fictional way only made-for-tv-movies generally do, is actually quite moving. But it is lost on filmmaker Ron Krauss, who chooses to made this only a footnote of the story he chooses to tell.
This lack of direction is probably the biggest problem with GIMME SHELTER, though there are many. The whole film feels like a dramatization you might see on the Lifetime network instead of a feature film. Hudgens gives a nearly identical performance to her previous roles and doesn’t tread any real new ground, except for some phenomenal makeup. She exudes the singular pouting anger everyone assumes children associated with ‘the system’ must feel. This feeling is likely true for many who encounter the foster care system but the melodramatic presentation we usually see in films is but a shadow of that feeling, the lowest common denominator boiled down for the masses.
When it comes right down to it GIMME SHELTER just isn’t that good, despite some redeeming qualities that will likely draw many to the film. The story of someone who gives her life to try to grant a new life to those young women struggling with their situations, hoping to get them out of the never-ending cycle that can be our foster care system… that’s a story worth telling. But GIMME SHELTER just isn’t that film, and it is all the more forgettable for it.
GIMME SHELTER BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.35:1) The HD presentation of GIMME SHELTER is decent but really excels in the first few moments where we see the dark underbelly of New York City. When it breaks down to the more intimate moments the presentation can pull you out of the moment.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) GIMME SHELTER features a nice audio track that is immersive into this tale of woe and redemption.
The Making of GIMME SHELTER (12:43) A generally informative and fairly interesting look at the behind the scenes work for GIMME SHELTER. There is an interesting interview portion with Ann Dowd and the real life Kathy Fiore, but otherwise this is not really worth watching unless you somehow really enjoyed the film.
Deleted Scenes (05:56) Deleted scenes for GIMME SHELTER are featured on the Blu-ray with a terrible optional commentary (the audio quality is extremely suspect here). Only one scene is truly worth watching but none would have elevated GIMME SHELTER beyond it’s formulaic presentation.
GIMME SHELTER also features an UltraViolet Digital Copy of this ultimately unfortunate film.