Movie Review: Shelter

Shelter (2007 film)

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I’m a fan of movies that deal with a gay guy who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.  There’s just something touching and nostalgic about watching the main character discover his feelings for another man and begin to sort through the emotional obstacle course made up of love, desire, fear, doubt, and guilt.

One such movie that stands out in my mind is Shelter, the 2007 movie about a young man, Zach, living in California.  Where Shelter differs from other great coming out movies, like Latter Days and Rock Haven, is that Zach’s major conflict isn’t so much about his religion, but his family.

Zach lives with his older sister, her live-in boyfriend (at least I don’t get the impression their married) and his five year old nephew.  Zach works at odd jobs to help support his sister and little Cody, who sees his uncle as a major father figure.  Zach’s life begins to change when is best friend’s older brother, Shaun, comes to town for an extended stay.  Zach and Shaun fall in love, and quickly finds his desire to be with Shaun quickly coming into conflict with his family obligations.  His sister, Jeanne, is concerned about her son being around all that “gay stuff” and doesn’t think it’s healthy environment.  (Strangely, Jeanne isn’t all that concerned that her live-in boyfriend is asking her to go to Oregon for six months and leave Cody behind.) Despite Shaun’s undying adoration of Cody and his willingness to make Cody a part of any plans he and Zach might have, the family conflict leads to problems in the couple’s budding relationship.

In addition to the conflict between love and obligations to a family that doesn’t approve of gay relationships, this film weaves in the extra dimensions of different family backgrounds.  While Zach and his sister have lived a difficult life with plenty of hard luck and few breaks, Shaun comes from a well-to-do family.  This difference leads to differences in perspective and different approaches to their problems, adding to the conflict.

All of these elements are handled well, or at least as well as they can be in a 97 minute movie.  It makes for a touching and heartfelt story, and one that I could personally identify with on many levels.

7 thoughts on “Movie Review: Shelter”

  1. Sounds good.
    I watched Brokeback Mountain and that was really sad. I was so hoping the two guys would be able to stay together, they obviously loved each other. Some love stories suck.

  2. Would you believe I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain?

    While the romantic in me wishes all love stories worked out, another part of me is glad that there are movies like Brokeback Mountain and Rock Haven as well. In reality, love stories don’t always work out, and it’s nice that some movies reflect that reality as well. Those are the movies I can identify with — especially at times like these.

    In the case of Brokeback Mountain, I think it was good simply because it fit in with the overall theme of the movie. While the movie was about a love story, it was also a movie about the world around the couple which fought against their love. In many ways, it was appropriate to show those pressures as eventually capable of keeping them apart. I’ve seen the effect that movie has had on some people, and it’s moved some of them in a way that a happy ending might not have. It forced them to face the reality that sometimes, the pressures of society really do rob us of our happy ending, and I think it’s good that people struggle with that. Hopefully, their conscience will eventually urge them to do something about it.

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