Gimme Shelter is beautifully written, features amazing performances, and has the real capacity to change lives
MPAA Rating, PG-13
USCCB Rating, A-III
Reel Rating: (4 Reels out of 5)
Note: Spoilers Alert!
In the 1938 classic Boys Town, Fr. Flanagan famously said, “there is no such thing as a bad boy.” He didn’t mean males never sin; rather, the worst social situations and bad habits of the homeless rebel teenager do not remove his God-given dignity or opportunity for redemption. The same is true for Apple, a poor, expectant teenager who escapes her abusive mother in search of a home. Gimme Shelter is the best pro-life movie yet made, mostly because it is an actual movie rather than a two-hour sermon. It is beautifully written with amazing performances by A-list actors. Most importantly, it has the real capacity to change lives.
The film opens with Apple Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) brutally cutting her hair and calling a cab to pick her up. It is unknown who this girl is, why she is changing her looks, or where she is going in such a hurry. Gradually, it becomes clear she is fleeing her monster of a mother, June (Rosario Dawson), and seeking her biological father, Tom (Brendan Frasier), with only a decade-old letter to guide her. Tom, now a successful stock broker, is open to helping her, but his wife Joanna is less keen, especially when it is revealed that Apple is pregnant from a brief affair (not unlike Tom and June). They arrange an abortion for Apple. Waiting at the clinic, Apple takes one last peek at the ultrasound picture and runs away weeping.
When Apple emerges from the clinic, she will not return to her father and becomes homeless. While fleeing a prospective pimp, she steals a car and promptly crashes. In the hospital, she meets Fr. McCarthy (James Earl Jones in an amazing performance). He gently tries to lead her soul to peace while guiding her to Catholic shelter for pregnant mothers in need run by a saintly woman named Kathy (Ann Dowd). The shelter provides Apple with her first genuine security in life including protection from June, spiritual guidance, financial assistance, and, most importantly, love. While initially hesitant, she eventually connects with the other woman at the shelter over their common struggles and finds a true home.
This film is a tremendously effective treatise on abortion because it connects the situation of Apple with that of her child. It handles abortion in a direct, realistic fashion without dramatic music, screaming, or political overtones.