In writer/director Ronald Krauss’ film, Gimme Shelter, Agnes “Apple” (played by Vanessa Hudgens) is a 16 year old girl trying to find a place to belong. A foster child at 8 years old, she has gone from foster home to foster home, only to wind up back in her mother, June’s (Rosario Dawson) incapable care.
June is the type of mother who only wants her child around for the welfare check and that is not going to work for Apple, who happens to be pregnant.
With nowhere else to go, Apple attempts to turn to her Wall Street banker father, Tom (Brendan Fraser), who has a snobby wife, Joanna (Stephanie Szostak).
Joanna doesn’t like that Apple and all of her darkness have upset her pristine household and wants her gone. She’s even willing to go as far as to take Apple for a sonogram appointment and then leave her, thinking that Apple wouldn’t be able to find her way home and would just disappear.
The film, (on limited release in South Florida) based on a true story, is a heart-warming story about a young woman’s endurance and will to survive.
That will leads her to a shelter that caters specifically to girls who want to have and raise their babies in a safe and loving environment. Unfortunately, Apple’s story isn’t the worst of all of the other girls’ stories.
These young women have been abused, raped and discarded by their peers and family members. Without beating his audience over the head with his themes, Krauss makes a serious case for young women who just want and need to be loved by their parents first and then by themselves.
One can’t help but wonder if girls would have ended up pregnant if they’d had a better support system at home.
Lastly, Krauss wants his audience to know that God will answer prayers, as long as the prayers are said with faith. Apple ends up at the shelter, which is a great place for her to be, after getting into a bad car accident and coming under the spiritual care of Father Frank McCarthy (played by the indomitable James Earl Jones).
Jones as Father McCarthy gives a riveting performance as a priest who’s so seasoned at being a spiritual guide that he has his own special way of getting through to Apple when no one else can. He also serves as a reminder that God will send you help, as long as you’re willing to receive it.
Hudgens’ performance is a pleasant surprise. Gone is the pretty, girly shyness of her Gabriella Montez in High School Musical.
Thankfully, the stench of her Candy in Spring Breakers has evaporated, as well. Whatever remaining remnants that were left with Hudgens were beaten to a pulp by Apple and cast off like yesterday’s trash. This is Hudgens 3.0 and it is a good version.
She proves herself as a professional actress and not a lucky tween in a Disney movie. Kudos to Hudgens for digging deep and bringing forth a character that is memorable and one to root for.
Concurrently, Dawson’s June is the kind of character that sends chills up your spine. June is a terrible mother and a horrible human being. She wasn’t always like that. But she’s an example of what can happen when someone is broken and never gets fixed.
Even though I don’t agree with the lackluster title of the film, Gimme Shelter is a great film that opens a dialogue about what it can mean to be a young person from a broken home and how humankind craves the warmth of family and friends. And, when there is an absence of blood relatives, most people cling to the family that will accept them the most.
Gimme Shelter is a must-watch, not just because of the great performances and the heart-wrenching story, but because we owe it to all of the young, casted-off women of the world to understand their plight. The film gives a great excuse to hug all of the young women and little girls in your life and show them that they are truly loved.