By Darlene Donloe
Gimme Shelter is a movie based on inspiring true events that will leave the audience drenched in emotions.
Uneasy to watch, hard to fathom, it’s a look inside the courageous story of Agnes “Apple” Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) and her incredible path to motherhood as a pregnant, homeless teen.
To say this girl has had a hard way to go would be an understatement. Not only is she forced to flee her drugged out, abusive mother (Rosario Dawson), earlier in her life she was turned away by her Wall Street father played by Brendan Fraser.
The movie opens with Apple shearing off her long hair and convincing herself that she was not afraid to make her escape.
Determined to have a better life for herself and her unborn child, Apple sets out on a journey of survival that is disturbing.
She eventually makes her way to the New Jersey home of the father she never met. Mistaken for someone trying to break in, Apple is arrested, but is quickly let go when her father comes home and recognizes her.
Her father’s wife (Stephanie Szostak), is none to happy to have Apple intrude on their peaceful, happy, suburban existence.
Apple, feeling unwelcomed, once again hits the streets. She soon learns the streets are not her friend.
Over the years, Apple held on to the one thing she had from her father, a letter explaining why he wasn’t in her life, but how he still loved her.
After she ends up in the hospital after getting away from a thuggish pimp by crashing his car, she meets a man (James Earl Jones) who has an interest in helping her turn her life around. But, Apple is skeptical and untrusting. With trepidation she cracks the door to her world and allows her to lead her to salvation. He gets her support in a suburban shelter for homeless teenagers.
Still unsteady and unsure, Apple decides to give it a shot. Eventually her confidence grows and she embraces her new possibilities.
Her initial distrust and hostility for the world starts to decrease. She eventually starts to bond with the other teenage mothers.
Hudgens transforms herself. She goes deep inside a character that is uncomfortable, complicated and complex. She’s unrecognizable and gives way to some emotions that, even as an actress, have to be difficult.
Dawson (Sin City, Trance) is equally mesmerizing. She too goes deep into her character who has hit the bottom, but continues to dig. Throwing caution to the wind, both of the actresses bring their A-game.
This is a powerful story told by powerful actresses unafraid to bare their souls.
To prepare for the role, Hudgens (High School Musical) lived for weeks in pregnancy shelters, interacting with the young homeless mothers who also appear in the film, completely altering her appearance.
Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions and Day 28 Films), written and directed by Ronald Krauss, stars Vanessa Hudgens, James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, Stephanie Szostak, Emily Meade, Ann Dowd and Brendan Fraser.
On the DONLOE SCALE, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no) N (needs works), L (likeable) O (OK) and E (excellent), Gimme Shelter gets an O (OK).