“Gimme Shelter” Review

Vanessa Hudgens Gives Audiences a Deep Performance

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Released on January 24, “Gimme Shelter” follows pregnant, 16-year-old Agnes “Apple” (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees from her drug addict mother (Rosario Dawson) to her estranged, Wall Street father (Brendan Fraser). Escaping the city, Apple finds herself in the affluent New Jersey suburbs, where she meets her father for the first time. However, after Apple’s trek to her father’s home is completed, her real journey begins to provide her unborn child and herself with a life.

Directed by Ron Krauss (“Puppies for Sale”, “Amexica”), the film’s inspiration stemmed from one of Kathy DiFiore’s shelters in New Jersey. DiFiore, President of Several Sources Shelters, is well known for her work with America’s homeless.

Hudgens delivers a convincing and convicting performance. Breaking away from felonious spring breaks (Spring Breakers) and high school dance scenes (High School Musical), Hudgens shows a genuine emotional depth (who knew?) that is not lost on the audience.

Hudgens was so immersed in the project, she says, she lost herself for a time, “I had been so used to playing this character that I was just completely disengaged from who I was, and when you’re in a certain state of mind for a long duration of time, it’s really interesting how you start to become that person. It was tough.”

“I really loved blowing up and exploding in ferociousness,” Hudgens comments,  “That’s not really something I’ve ever gotten to do…I’ve gotten to cry, to be sad, and a lot of emotions, but really, just blowing up is something I’ve never been able to do.”

“It’s so rare that a role like this comes around and you get to transform yourself. It’s every actor’s dream to be able to really change themselves, whether it’s physically, or emotionally, just to break down who you are and to play someone completely different.” Director Krauss reminds Hudgens of the multiple emails she sent him reaffirming her desire to play Apple, “Something inside of me just knew that I had to do this. I just really connected with the character. It just sat somewhere inside of me. It was just waiting to be channeled out.”

The film is being hailed as pro-life by some, but Krauss says that was not his original intention, “I love that people can take the film however they want, but any Hollywood film where people keep their baby is a called a pro-life movie. It really is a life film about family.”

For the role, Hudgens gained 15 pounds on her petite 5’1 frame and cut her hair, saying, “I went out to the shelter two weeks before we started filming and I could not have asked for a better way to prepare for a role. It just had me completely submersed into this world. My main focus was to be one of the girls. I got to build some amazing relationships.  After that, it was just the physical transformation.”

Though the movie caters to a middle school and above audience, the movie has lessons for all: life is precious, life is surprising, and life is beautiful.

4.2/ 5.0