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movie review: gimme shelter

vanessa hudgens gets raw in her intense new role.

by: liza darwin

January 24 2014

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It's obvious from the trailer alone: Gimme Shelter is a far, far cry from the Vanessa Hudgens we're used to seeing onscreen. And we're not just talking about the choppy boyish bob the actress sports, or the reported 15 pounds she gained for her role as homeless teenager Apple in the drama, which opens today. Hudgens goes for broke in this gritty flick, which is based on a true story of a pregnant runaway teen who manages to turn her life around.   

Co-starring Rosario Dawson and Brendan Fraser, this film follows Apple as she runs away from her abusive, drug-addicted mother (Dawson), seeking, uh, shelter with her father (Fraser), a suburban millionaire whom she's never met.

Obviously things don't go as planned. Her father's wife Joanna kicks her out once she learns Apple is pregnant, and she's left to fend for herself--avoiding sketchy characters, breaking into cars to sleep, and eventually landing in a home for pregnant teenage girls.

Sound heavy? It is. A movie like this one can't work if the cast isn't 100% committed, and luckily, Hudgens, Dawson, Fraser, James Earl Jones (who plays a priest) and Ann Dowd (as the leader of the rescue) don't hold anything back. Both Hudgens and Dawson throw themselves into their roles physically (pushing, shoving, biting, eating, you get the picture) and emotionally. The script might be weak at times, but compelling performances like these mean the sentiment is all there.

So is this the next step for Vanessa Hudgens into dramatic new territory? We hope so...and we hope the rest of Hollywood is watching. 

Gimme Shelter opens in theaters today. 

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