Based on a true pro-life story, “Gimme Shelter” is a daringly poignant and captivating depiction of a young woman named Apple Bailey who struggles to break free from those who would keep her from giving birth and raising her own baby.
The film, which opens in theaters Jan. 24, is the dramatic break-out role of a new and talented young actress, Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical”, “The Frozen Ground”). Oscar buzz is already in the air for the gripping and credible performance she gives in the movie.
Above all, the film is an impassioned outcry for society and individuals of all walks of life to do what they can to help young women traverse unexpected pregnancies, echoing the words of Pope Francis to help struggling youth find shelter.
Directed by Ron Krause with strong supporting roles given by James Earl Jones, Brendan Fraser (“Gods and Monsters”), Ann Dowd (“Compliance”), Rosario Dawson (“Seven Pounds”), Emily Meade (“Boardwalk Empire”) and Stephanie Szostak (“The Devil Wears Prada”), “Gimme Shelter” is engrossing from the opening to final shot.
Finding a home
Sixteen-year-old Apple is a youth with a future denied her, born with the right to a silver spoon in her mouth just as rapidly vacated. Her Wall Street financier father, Tom Fitzpatrick (portrayed by a Brendan Fraser exhibiting rare gravitas on screen), doesn’t exactly stroll into Apple’s newly burdened life: He walked away from it years ago when he decided that succeeding in college as a student was incompatible with assuming his responsibility for the life which he created with Apple’s mother, June (Rosario Dawson).
Apple, after discovering her unintended pregnancy, finally breaks free from her drug-addicted mother’s own inescapable vortices. She seeks out her father, finds him living in a posh mansion married to Joanna (Stephanie Szostak) and shatters their idyllic social construct by demanding that he give her shelter. And that is where the film only continues to take off.
Apple providentially finds hope in a home for wayward pregnant girls set up by a woman named Kathy (portrayed by a compelling Ann Dowd), after having been offered the tender and wise hand of Catholic hospital chaplain Father Frank McCarthy (a wise and surprising James Earl Jones).
With the staunch support and love offered by Kathy and her peers, and the recognition by Tom and Joanna of their own responsibilities, Apple is not only given a new start in life, but she also decides on her own to initiate one.
The film reminds us all that she could be the daughter, sibling or cousin in the family of any member of the audience, if not the viewer herself. For this reason it is most important for the faithful aware of this film’s debut to consider the positive impact that the movie will have on those struggling with life issues.
Spread the word. It would behoove the parents of any child 15 and older to consider seeing this movie together as a family for the most important life teachings that are disseminated in this film.
The movie was inspired by the real-life story of Several Sources Shelters founder Kathy DiFiore, who worked with Blessed Mother Teresa. Read more about DiFiore and her work at http://www.severalsourcesfd.org.
“Gimme Shelter” is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Balestrieri is a guest reviewer from Eden Prairie.