Not being familiar with Vanessa Hudgens her performance blew my mind in “Gimme Shelter”. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out she was a Disney graduate having played in “High School Musical” at the age of 17. Now she is 25 playing a 15 year old pregnant girl without anyone to help.
“Gimme Shelter” opens with a scene of her looking in a mirror chopping her hair off and having a pierced eyelid and lip. She has been abused, moved to ten foster homes because her mother is an addict and prostitute and she doesn’t have any knowledge of who her father is and after having a fight with her mother again she goes off to find him just having his address.
She goes to her father who has a lucrative job on Wall Street, a large home, wife and 2 pure as driven snow children. The wife is not welcoming to her, the children complain she stinks and upon hearing she is pregnant her father wants her to have an abortion.
She runs away and after being sneeringly approached by a pimp she steals his car and winds up in an accident that sends her to the hospital. This is where her life takes a turn as she meets a kindly Man of G-d who steers her to Kathy DiFiore who runs a shelter for teenage mothers and pregnant teenagers.
This being a Hollywood movie you should know where it is heading but it is based, somewhat, on a true story and over the end credits they show pictures of the real people.
Virginia Hudgens plays the lead Apple Bailey, bringing a lot more to the script than the writer-director Ronald Krauss gives her to work with. At some points when he can legitimately tug at the audience’s heart strings he preaches the obvious messages.
James Earl Jones plays the man of the church brings a gravitas that only he can without over doing his voice or mannerisms. Rosario Dawson, with yellow teeth, plays the addictive mother who knows how to handle a razor blade in her mouth while Brendan Fraser acts as a milquetoast, which is strange for an actor who looks and usually is strong, as Apple’s father. Stephanie Szostak plays his wife in an underwritten tough role while Ann Dowd plays the real DiFiore.
The film is a quick moving 1 hour and 40 minutes and has a PG-13 rating for a few brutal scenes of abuse, drug talk and some rough, but apropos, language.
I do know that if I was a writer, producer and/or director I would want Vanessa Hudgens for my next few pictures and this movie is a MUST SEE for her acting, taking a weak story and making it very interesting. By the way when she cleans at a point in the film she is quite the pretty woman!