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‘Gimme Shelter’ Delivers a Message

| Monday, January 27, 2014

GimmeShelter_WEBSteph Wulz

Vanessa Hudgens, Brendan Fraser and Rosario Dawson all star in “Gimme Shelter,” a film featuring Hudgens as a pregnant, homeless teen runaway.

Hudgens’ character, Apple Bailey, runs away after discovering her father said she cannot stay with him unless she gets an abortion. She runs away from the clinic and eventually finds herself in a hospital where a minster (James Earl Jones) introduces her to a shelter run by a Christian woman for pregnant, homeless teenagers. In an almost clichéd manner, Apple finds a home there for her and her baby.

Both Hudgens and Dawson (playing Apple’s mother) give fairly incredible performances in the film, which is based on a true story. The power of their characters comes through in a scene between the two of them in the hospital, as Apple silently refuses to go along with her mother as her mother rants about how she can’t give her baby up, and the welfare money that comes with it.

The movie had some fairly strong points — with that scene in the hospital being one of the most poignant. That being said, in spite of it being based on a true story, the plot line was almost too cliché at points — with Hudgens almost magically transitioning from a troubled teen runaway to a happy trusting teen mother once she finds the shelter. Something tells me that the real Apple Bailey’s transition was not quite this smooth.

This movie clearly argues that abortion is not the recommended path of action but I think the stronger message in the movie is women in Bailey’s situation are put in a position where they have to make a choice, but is not a choice that can or should be forced on anyone. The true problem with the prospect of Apple’s abortion is that it is nearly forced upon her by her father and her stepmother, even though Apple is clearly hesitant from the beginning to get one.

It is never clear why Apple chooses to keep her child. As a character, she is never fully developed — never giving the audience a clear vision of her motives and certainly never explaining the transitions she undergoes.

This is perhaps the weakest part of the movie. For all that Apple goes through, it is never clear when or how she undertakes the transition that is obvious by the end of the movie.

Director Ron Krauss, in an interview with the National Review Online, expressed his happiness that the film was even released, calling it a miracle given the heavily pro-choice parts of Hollywood. As it is, the movie delivers a powerful message about the ability to make it through tough times — even if the pro-life message didn’t come out as clearly to me as it may have been meant to.

That being said, the movie is still well worth seeing. The scenes where Hudgens silently wanders the city streets, seeking shelter in unlocked cars and eating food straight from the dumpsters will tug anyone’s heartstrings and certainly the number of babies in the end of the movie will make anybody smile. While it may not be a cinematic masterpiece, “Gimme Shelter” is worth seeing.

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin