There’s a quote I remember that harmonises perfectly with Paul Bettany’s debut film Shelter: “Whatever you do in life will be insignificant but it’s very important that you do it”

There’s certainly some cosmic understanding to this that we can’t or may not want to perceive. To accept some verbal construction as a higher wisdom can be difficult for some and some will spend life times figuring out the answers to this or a myriad of related questions. The most pertinent in this film review: Why is this relevant to Shelter?

The story centres on Hannah (Jennifer Connelly) and Tahir (Anthony Mackie,) two homeless people living on the streets of New York. How a chance encounter births a love a story and as we delve deeper into their lives, what’s revealed is the ‘why’ of their street life existence and how these things came to be.


The things people do for forgiveness and for the tragedies they’ve committed are numerous in count. It’s the reason people are so connected to cinema isn’t it? The stories relayed reveal personal truths within the people perceiving them. For some, it can happen with the standard two dimensional Soap Operas where as for others, it’s the complexity of the most enigmatic films made by the hand of man. You can either reflect on this, letting it alter your perceptions for the better or let the lessons blow blissfully past you.

What Shelter brings out in you is an understanding that every person follows their own course, no matter the divide within social class or subject matter, your highest peak can soon be your darkest hour. And that if you’re living, you have a beginning, middle and end to your own story and it is equally as important as any other.


We’ve seen Connelly in the role of Marion Silver (Requiem for a Dream) and this was by far one of the most damaging films to ever wreck my psyche. How relieved I was to learn that yet again she would be reprising the role of an addict and how damaging this was to witness. Dropping several pounds in weight, she brings every nuance of commitment to the role and it’s impossible not to notice. Mackie brings out a performance of unadulterated precision and belief. We witness the savagery of human behaviour and also the kindness of the human spirit. Like any capitalistic sentiment, everything comes at a cost; Hannah and Tahir are no acceptance to this reasoning.

Shelter is a brutal reflection of the human condition on any point of the spectrum, it’s a reality check of living, mixed with the fictitious drama of two lost souls entwining. Next time I walk past a homeless person, maybe I won’t be so reluctant to hand him a £20 note!

(see: imdb/trivia for clarification)


4.5 / 5


Dir: Paul Bettany

Scr: Paul Bettany

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Hoffman

Prd: Robert Ogden Barnhum, Paul Bettany, Katie Mustard, Daniel Wagner

DOP: Paul Huidobro

Country: USA

Year: 2014

Run time: 105 mins


Shelter is available on DVD now.