Movie Review | Shelter (2007)

HEA movie review


I wanted to love this movie, but instead, I’ve found myself only liking it.

When I began scouring the internet for movies to put on my Happy List, I ran across this one many times. It has amazing reviews on Amazon, and I haven’t heard a bad thing about it. When I discovered it was a surf movie, it rocketed up to the top of my must watch list. All anyone needs to do is take a quick look around my website in order to understand why that is.

I am a little obsessed with all things beaches and oceans, and obviously hot surfers falls under both of those categories. I’ve seen the movie Blue Crush at least a hundred times. The scenery alone in that movie is exquisite. Of course it is; it was shot in Hawaii. Which is one of the reasons the first viewing of this movie left me less than satisfied. This is mostly my fault. My expectations going in were way too high for an indie film. But it’s good that I recognize this.

Shelter pic

                 Click for Amazon

I’ve since rewatched this one several times, and it’s grown on me each time. There are many things to love about it. I absolutely adored Zach. He’s the main character, and the movie follows him as he deals with coming to terms with his feelings for his best friend’s older brother. A bit of a cliche, but sometimes those are good.

Zach’s family life is rather sad, and a big chunk of the movie is him juggling work and helping his sister raise her 5 year old son, Cody. I found myself relating to Zach rather closely because of all this. He has essentially put his life and dreams of going to art school on hold to help his sister, who would rather spend time with her child-hating boyfriend than her son, which means Zach’s had to step up in a big way. Add in his sister’s homophobia and things get a little rocky.

I suppose the title refers to Zach finding shelter from his home life in Shaun’s arms. But this is where things get a little frustrating for me. I wanted to like Shaun. I really did. He’s an extremely positive, nice, caring, understanding, patient, and uplifting guy. The problem is all of this made him feel too perfect to me, like he was just a prop for Zach’s self-discovery and betterment, and I didn’t like that at all.

I also thought the chemistry was very lacking between them, and that includes the kissing and love scenes. Most of their interactions read like friends not lovers, and I struggled with the believability of their relationship because of this. I suppose some of it can be “explained” away with Zach’s inexperience and his unwillingness to step out of the closet, but there was just something missing here for me.

I have a lot of weird, conflicting feelings about their relationship that I don’t want to get into. Yes, there is a happy (for now) ending after a bit of angst, but even that left me kind of unsatisfied. It’s just… well, bottomline, I have trouble buying them as a couple.

Overall, I wanted this movie to be deeper than it was, to dive further into Zach’s head, and maybe even offer a glimpse into Shaun’s thoughts and feelings, but that didn’t happen. I think I might be spoiled after watching Free Fall, which I’m still madly in love with, so maybe my expectations were way too high all around for this one.

With that being said, this is still worth a watch and even a rewatch. Zach and Cody’s relationship will melt the coldest of hearts. The soundtrack is beautiful. Even though it’s not Hawaii, there are some nice shots of the ocean and surfing. And despite the lack of sizzle, the happy montage half way through makes me smile just thinking about it.

I’m almost furious that I don’t care that much for Shaun because I really enjoyed the rest of it… after my third viewing, after my high expectations had worn off, after I’d learned to appreciate it for what it is.

 4 stars, 7/10 would recommend

Do you have a favorite queer movie with a happy ending or one you’d like me to review? If so, let me know and I’ll add it to my list.