Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/2/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is as powerful in its impact on the viewer as any film I have ever seen, no matter what the genre

I did not know what to expect. I have long been convinced of the importance of people with sincere faith making films which are not dismissed as religious or labeled Christian and marginalized.
Let's be honest, that is what happens all too often. In some instances these movies are fairly good, some even excellent. In others, they are not very good at all. As someone who loves movies, and is convinced that we are living in a new missionary age, I keep my eyes open for those films which communicate the message of true liberation. This message is desperately needed in an age which is losing its soul in the sterile abyss of nihilism. Gimme Shelter is one of those films. This gritty, realistic, well acted portrayal of the painfully real world which surrounds the plight of a mother who makes the moral choice of life, against extraordinary odds, is simply superb. 

Thank the God of love for the heroic work of angels such as Kathy DiFiore and so many others who provide shelters for the Apples of this world. A kiss is a sign of love. Love truly is just a kiss away and they light the path to love in a world of shadows. Thank God for Ronald Krauss, the writer and director of Gimme Shelter, who shows us how to make good films which can promote the truly good life. One does not see this movie called Gimme Shelter, one encounters this movie. You will not be the same after you have experienced it. See it - and be changed in this encounter.

Thank the God of love for the heroic work of angels such as Kathy DiFiore and so many others who provide shelters for the Apples of this world. A kiss is a sign of love. Love truly is just a kiss away and they light the path to love in a world of shadows. Thank God for Ronald Krauss, the writer and director of Gimme Shelter, who shows us how to make good films which can promote the truly good life. One does not see this movie called Gimme Shelter, one encounters this movie. You will not be the same after you have experienced it. See it - and be changed in this encounter.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/2/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Gimme Shelter, Movies, Movie review, Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, James Earl Jones, Several Sources Shelter, Kathy DiFiore, Ronald Krauss, Christian movies, culture, pregancy help, crisis pregnancy, Pro-Life, Hollywood, Carmel Communications, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - My wife and I had the privilege of watching the film Gimme Shelter before it opened at the theater. I did not know what to expect. I have long been convinced of the importance of people with sincere faith making films which are not dismissed as religious or labeled Christian and marginalized.
 
Let's be honest, that is what happens all too often.

In some instances these movies are fairly good, some even excellent. In others, they are not very good at all. Some are, sadly, poorly done. However, whether they are well done or poorly done they can end up becoming the film version of "singing to the choir."

The only people who watch them are the people who may not need to hear or see their important message. They can also promote a mistaken approach of withdrawing from the culture, right when we are needed the most to serve in the renewal of the culture.

As someone who loves movies, and is convinced that we are living in a new missionary age, I keep my eyes open for those films which communicate the message of true liberation. This message is desperately needed in an age which is losing its soul in the sterile abyss of nihilism.

Gimme Shelter is one of those films. This gritty, realistic, well acted portrayal of the painfully real world which surrounds the plight of a mother who makes the moral choice of life, against extraordinary odds, is simply superb. 

It is as powerful in its impact on the viewer as any film I have ever seen, no matter what the genre.

The movie is disturbing in its realism and refreshing in its rejection of a pollyannaish portrayal of life. That is why I call it gritty. When I was contacted by the people at Carmel Communications about reviewing the film, I was instantly struck by the title.

I soon discovered that it was a reference to the work of mercy which is the life witness and  mission of Kathy DiFiore, the founder of Several Source Shelters . My first thought, which reveals my age, was to recall the gritty rock and roll song by the Rolling Stones, of the same title.  The words of that 1969 song flooded my mind: 

Yeah, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Lord, I'm gonna fade away
War, children, yeah, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, yeah, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
.

As I watched this gritty film I saw how apropos the title truly is.  This is the story of Agnes "Apple" Bailey, played with brilliance by Vanessa Hudgens. Only after experiencing the film did I learn that in preparing for this role she lived in crisis pregnancy shelters, spending time with the heroic mothers who overcame great odds to choose the life of their children.

Her research paid off. She delivered an extraordinary performance.

Apple is the daughter of a single mom named June, an abusive drug addict in the throes of the lifestyle which often accompanies addiction. She defines toxic, in her passive/aggressive behavior. She abandoned Apple when she was just a girl. Apple went through the system, experiencing twelve foster homes and at least one abusive foster parent.

She has lived her life in a war and was teetering on becoming a casualty of that war.

Apple came back to the only place she had to come to, to be used once again by a mother whose capacity to love was robbed by the dark bondage of narcotics. The role of June is a significant role throughout this stark, realistic film. It is played with a scary, gut wrenching honesty by Rosario Dawson in the performance of her career. 

Apple knows that the hungry darkness in which she is trapped will bring her down with it - unless she escapes. The opening scenes introduce us to her plight to do that. She stares into a mirror, chopping her hair off while trying to convince herself to break the cycle by repeating, "You can do this!"

She chooses the unknown of life on the dangerous streets to the prison of the toxic lifestyle in which she was entrenched, as her mother spiraled into a living hell and tried to drag her along. The depiction of her life on the street is as gritty as the experience of her mother's hellish household. This film is gritty - and rightly so - because life can be gritty.

Apple seeks out her birth father named Tom, whom she has never met. She has carried the only letter she ever received from him for years. It has become worn, along with her hope for a better life. Tom abandoned Apple and her mother after being informed that she was pregnant. He chose himself over the sacrifice of love, to go to college and pursue a career.

He is now a hedge fund broker who lives an affluent life with a picture-perfect family. He has a wife named Joanna and two postcard-looking children. They live in the suburbs. The re-connection is replete with difficulty. It will change Tom, and Joanna, profoundly, but not without struggle and pain.

Apple is depleted from life on the street and nauseous. After the initial shock of the unexpected reunion, she is brought to a doctor for a checkup as Tom takes a concern for her health.  It is there that Apple, while wresting with her complete lack of trust from a life of being used and discarded herself, discovers she is with child.This child, this new life, will become the vehicle of her own new life.  

The scene when she sees her child for the first time in a sonogram reveals without the necessity of words, the truth at issue concerning our first neighbors in the womb. The doctor gives Apple her baby's first photo, a photo which becomes a recurring inspiration and reality check as the movie unfolds.

The softly evil words used by Tom in his advice to Apple, encouraging her to abort her child, depict a reality often repeated as people seek to make an immoral decision sound moral. "It's time you turn the page on this, move forward, and before you know it; you will have forgotten that it ever happened." Apple responds, "Turn the page, like you did with me."   

Joanna, Tom's wife, takes Apple to a clinic to abort her child. She tells her she "does not have to worry about anything." She warns her she that she "doesn't want to end up being like her mother." Then, she abandons her in that house of horrors.

Alone, awaiting the abortion, Apple takes baby's first picture out of the place where she keeps it in her worn shoe. The truth of the humanity of her little girl compels her to act with courage. She runs out of the abortion facility to discover she has been abandoned once again. She runs back to the street where she faces what so many of the modern poor experience.

This gritty yet grand film exposes the fundamental moral issues of human life. For example, that our choices not only change the world around us but change us - and that freedom must be exercised in reference to doing what is true and good or it can devolve into a self-imposed slavery. Further, that our wrong exercise of freedom can lead to addictions and the compelled worship of idols that never satisfy the hunger in every human heart.

Yet, it does all of this without becoming moralistic. While not overtly religious, it deals with the very core of the existential questions which lead to true religious faith. 

It is on the street, and in a hospital, that Apple meets a Catholic priest named Father McCarthy, a retired military chaplain who is now a hospital chaplain. This is a man who walks the talk. Tough but loving, and played with elegance, compassion and dignity by the deeply talented James Earl Jones, his role in her life deepens as the plot deepens.

The character is a realistic and refreshingly uplifting portrayal of the many priests who do this kind of work, day in and day out.

Fr McCarthy is the one who introduces Apple to Kathy DiFiore, the founder of Several Source Shelters, played by Ann Dowd. However, the relationship is not an easy one. It initially meets with serious resistance as Apple falls back into her learned patterns of self protection. In addition, her relationships with the other women at the shelter are equally complex and beautiful, all at the same time.   

I could continue writing about this beautiful film but I have already gone on too long for one review. Apples experiences in the shelter and her transformation brought about by the love of a new family of young women at the shelter are difficult and deeply moving. They draw the viewer to reflection and a serious and cathartic review of their own life.

Her ongoing relationship with her natural father Tom and her natural mother, June, are realistic, troubling and deeply moving. Her initially isolated and harsh effort to survive becomes the path to her life redemption and the transformation of others along the way, but not all.

This is a truly marvelous story and a truly heart wrenching film.

Gimme Shelter opened in theaters on the weekend of January 24, 2014. As we approach the weekend I advise everyone reading this review to see this fabulous film. I end where I began, with the words of that Rolling Stones Song, but another verse, the one which comes at the end:

I tell love, sister, yeah, it's just a kiss away
I tell love, sister, yeah, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away, it's just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away
Gimme shelter


Thank the God of love for the heroic work of angels such as Kathy DiFiore and so many others who provide shelters for the Apples of this world. A kiss is a sign of love. Love truly is just a kiss away and they light the path to love in a world of shadows. Thank God for Ronald Krauss, the writer and director of Gimme Shelter, who shows us how to make good films which can promote the truly good life.

One does not see this movie called Gimme Shelter, one encounters this movie. You will not be the same after you have experienced it. See it - and be changed in this encounter.Then join those who are responding to the chorus. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading


A Tribute to Protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, Friend of Francis and Champion of Christian Unity Watch

Image of The late Bishop Tony Palmer with Pope Francis- He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States. The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic. He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - ... continue reading


Exclusive: Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer, A Life Dedicated to Unity Watch

Image of (Pictured: Left to Right - Dirk West, Matteo Callisi, Bishop Tony Palmer, and Deacon Darrell Wentworth) - Faith to Bishop Tony Palmer was a dynamic, lived experience and, as a result, his life built up the whole Body of Christ and tore down the walls some have built to separate us from each other! What a legacy! A true example of living Jesus' prayer in John 17! (Deacon Darrell Wentworth)

By Deacon Darrell Wentworth

Monday, July 21, 2014, was supposed to be like most Mondays - the start of a work week. But Deacon Keith Fournier sent me a text informing me that my friend, Bishop Tony Palmer, had died. Shock went through my body as I processed that news; then disbelief as I ... continue reading


Anarchy in Chicago! Weekend of crime tears city apart Watch

Image of The weekend of July 18 saw the death of five people and the wounding of 47 in Chicago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There were 47 shooting victims in Chicago this weekend, five of which ended up being fatal, statistics from the Chicago Police Department report. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chicago officials met on July 21 to discuss the city's recent surge in gun ... continue reading


The Contraceptive New York Nanny, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The idea that the government is now in the business of arm-twisting women not to have more children - immediately after childbirth - is morally obnoxious and socially disturbing. It is so apt that this is happening in a city where its mayor lusts for abortion ... continue reading


Building a culture of life: Colorado clinic takes brave stand Watch

Image of Inspired to bring their mission home to Colorado, they decided to start a natural women's health clinic that would uphold the dignity of women and give them the care they deserve.

By CNA/EWTN News

A Colorado women's health clinic seeking to offer natural care that respects human dignity has drawn praise for helping to build up a culture of life. (CNA/EWTN News) - Authentic women's care "is essential to the pro-life movement," said Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, ... continue reading


When more than 80 percent of California faces extreme drought -- the spigots remain open Watch

Image of At the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, fountains are still operating. The one change is that they turn off at mid-morning, and haven't been running full-time since the spring.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Extremely dry conditions in the state of California has 80 percent of the so-called Golden State in extreme drought conditions. Many couldn't tell the difference in many urban areas: Sprinklers go full blast on many lawns, and lots of waters goes wasted by ... continue reading


IT'S ABOUT TIME: Rick Perry deploys national guard to halt southern invasion! Watch

Image of Texas Governor Rick Perry will send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the southern border, in an effort to stem the flood of illegals that have crossed over throughout 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an effort to stem the influx of tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children that have been entering the United States illegally in 2014, Texas Governor Rick Perry will send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the southern border. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,2 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 36:6-7, 8-9, 10-11
6 your saving justice is like towering mountains, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:10-17
10 Then the disciples went up to him and asked, 'Why ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 24th, 2014 Image

St. John Boste
July 24: One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born at ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter