Ron Krauss’ emotion-packed drama, “Gimme Shelter,” opens with Anges “Apple” Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) chanting “I’m not scared. I can do this. I’m okay,” as she chops off her luscious locks with a pair of old scissors. Hudgen’s portrayal of edgy Apple makes it clear that she’s much more than a Disney darling. And in the end, it’s the brilliant performances by her and Rosario Dawson that are the film’s saving grace.
Sixteen-year-old Apple is tired of living under the roof her abusive, drug-addicted mother, June (Dawson). She then decides to take a stand and leave behind her troublesome past and head to New Jersey. She tries to seek shelter with Wall Street broker Tom Fitzpatrick (Brendan Fraser), the biological father she never knew. But after seeing a positive sign on her home pregnancy test, indicating a baby is on the way, she decides that she can trust only herself and turns to the streets. Eventually, she meets the Rev. Frank McCarthy (James Earl Jones), who convinces her to live at a shelter for pregnant teens and ultimately gives her a new chance at life.
Hudgens’ portrayal of tough-skinned Apple caters to the emotional side of the audience. By carrying an ultrasound picture of her baby in one of her big, boyish sneakers, she constantly reminds audience members of her pain of being a child who is trying to cope with having a child of her own.
Meanwhile Dawson’s performance as the yellow-toothed, fuchsia lipstick–wearing drug addict proves to be much more raw and powerful. She constantly flips back and forth between an out-of-control, abusive mother and a caring guardian who is dying to break free from the suffocating chains of addiction.
However, Dawson and Hudgens’ pleasing performances couldn’t prevent audiences from guessing every move of “Gimme Shelter.” She’s going to run away. She’s going to find her dad. She’s not going to stay with him. All of these events are anticipated before they actually happen in the film, and it is this predictable quality that really hurts “Gimme Shelter” in the long run.
If it wasn’t for the completely predictable plot, the film could have been something to talk about. But unfortunately, apart from one stand-off scene between Apple and her mother, every action can be seen coming from a mile away. The movie as a whole isn’t that awful, but in the end, it really isn’t all that impressive either.