"Gimme Shelter" (not the Rolling Stones' song and documentary by the same name) is a rare blatantly pro-life story--with big name actors--to hit the theaters. Vanessa Hudgens puts in a gritty performance as castoff pregnant teen named Apple. This is a real street kid with an abusive street mother. Vanessa looks and acts every bit the part: disheveled hair, piercings, clothing to hide her gender (and pregnancy), hopeless stare, poor communication skills, eating from dumpsters, continually in survival mode.
Apple is trying hard with what little she has, but the deck is stacked against her every way she turns. Apple's circumstances are just the type that are used for automatic justification of abortion. Surely SHE should have an abortion, right? It's a no brainer, isn't it? She's a kid herself, she's homeless, she has no resources, no support system, no future. The baby will be raised in poverty and misery, just like Apple herself, and the child will wind up dead or in prison. Isn't this the de facto narrative?
Well, Apple is here to defy the system and break the cycle. Not because she's trying to make a statement, impose her will, or make things difficult for those around her. There's just a primal instinct in her that says: this baby could've been me. Was me. This is exactly how I came into the world. It's like killing myself. She's tired of being shuffled around, told what to do and treated like a problem that requires easy, expedient solutions. She just feels like the whole thing (abortion) stinks, and she's not having any part of it. It doesn't even play out like some "motherly" instinct. Apple is not looking forward to being a mother and having a cuddly little someone of her own that will finally love her back. She has been pushed to do plenty of wrong things in her life, but this is NOT going to be one of them. Apple is putting her foot down.
What makes Apple even more heroic is that she has absolutely no plan. She flees the abortion clinic not having a clue what she's going to do. A wise old priest (James Earl Jones), unfazed by Apple's anger and abrasiveness, tells her about a place for pregnant young women like herself.
"Gimme Shelter" is based on the true story of Kathy DiFiore (played by Ann Dowd) who opened a home for young mothers in New Jersey. The film follows Apple's hardscrabble road to the shelter where she finds safety, but most of all, what family means. Rosario Dawson is baneful as Apple's crazed, vicious mother. Brendan Fraser is her wealthy biological father, and Stephanie Szostak is chilling and spot-on as his society wife who can't seem to find a place in her heart for Apple. We get to see photos of the real characters at the end of the film.
Former Mousketeer Vanessa Hudgens proves herself a versatile and serious actress (after her roles in the racy "Sucker Punch" and dissolute "Spring Breakers").
The story is simple and linear. It's about the little things and everyday drama, everyday violence and everyday hope. The banality of life, death and desperation. It feels more like a solid made-for-TV story than made for the big screen, but definitely worth seeing!