Starring Vanessa Hudgens and James Earl Jones, “Gimme Shelter” is based on the true-life story of a young woman who finds hope and healing at a shelter for pregnant, homeless teens. This film opened in theaters today, and is playing at the Palisades Center.
The home in the movie is based on the Several Sources Shelters, founded by Kathy DiFiore in Ramsey, NJ, which has provided help to thousands of needy families, pregnant teens, and homeless women.
Our website’s guest blogger, Sean Miller, saw a special screening of this movie earlier this month. Here is his review:
This captivating movie opens with a symbolic scene as a young adolescent named Apple anxiously cuts her hair in a bathroom as she plans to break away from her dire surroundings.
Apple lives with her mother, June, and is constantly faced with the grim realities of street life, a vicious cycle of drugs and prostitution that only leads to a dead end of despair.
To separate herself from this bleak fate, April knows that she must break away from her mother. And the hope that allows her to dream of starting a new life is enclosed in a letter she received from her biological father many, many years ago.
So Apple sets out to find her absent father who was never involved in her life, and to find answers to questions that have filled her with anger and resentment as she desperately sought to find her identity in a world that let her down.
But now, Tom, Apple’s father, has turned the chapter on his own life and is an affluent, highly successful Wall Street businessman. He lives with his wife, Stephanie, and their children in their lavish mansion – unaware that his peaceful, stable existence will soon be shaken by an unexpected visitor — Apple!
Tom seems to be a good man who wants to do the right thing. But the meeting of father and daughter is a head-on collision of Tom’s world of affluence and tranquility and Apple’s unsettled world of turmoil.
And Stephanie is not ready to have her family’s home life turned into a whirlwind by this uninvited guest. She becomes all the more distraught when she learns that Apple is pregnant. She insists that the only solution is for her to have an abortion and takes her to the abortion facility the next day. Tom agrees in order to placate his wife.
Apple is left at the abortion clinic by Stephanie whose desire to get her out of her family’s life has eclipsed any understanding or sympathy. But during the sonogram procedure, Apple catches a glimpse of her baby. And, at the moment, the beautiful image is forever etched in her mind. She knows she is going to keep her child. No can can convince her otherwise, and she grows stronger in her conviction. In a sense, her baby’s sonogram image gives hope, not only for her baby, but also for herself.
However, this isn’t the end of Apple’s troubles. They just come in different forms now.
Her new vigor for life gives her the strength to face her upcoming challenges and stand up for herself and ultimately for her baby. But, at times, she unwittingly fights her allies.
In her anger after a serious car accident, she pushes away a wise priest who tries to help her. Father McCarthy realizes she’s only trying to make sense of her pain and supports her by being a silent anchor. He knows when to speak and when to remain silent and gently guides her as she learns how to make better decisions for herself.
Apple, though immature in many ways, grows up quickly and her self-affirmation makes her stronger and leads her closer to the answers she so eagerly seeks.
One question that never seemed to have an answer is “Where can I go to get help?” It is answered in a name — Kathy!
Kathy is the founder of a shelter that provides a home to pregnant women. Apple tests the waters with Kathy as well until she quickly realizes that Kathy means business. In short, Kathy lets her know that she wants to help her but Apple will have to abide by the rules of the house.
As Apple begins to appreciate the authentic concern that Kathy has for her, she slowly lets her guard down and starts to trust more and more.
Eventually she is able to see that the other women in the house truly care for her too. For the first time in her life, she experiences unconditional love that shows her that “your real home lies where love is.”
This understanding enables her to reject the temptation to leave with one of the girls. Because, by now, Apple has learned that the people who really love her are the ones that support her and encourage her to make better decisions for herself.
Eventually, Tom and Stephanie have a change of heart and ask Apple and her baby to come live with them. Apple has the maturity to recognize their good intentions, and she happily accepts their offer.
However, she knows that she is going to sorely miss all the mothers from the house. She goes back to visit them because, in many respects, her heart is there. This is where she was accepted when she was rejected. This is where she was embraced when she was pushed away. This is where she was given shelter when she had nowhere to go.
For more about the movie and its background, click here.
For more blogs by Sean, just search for “Sean Miller” in the box in the upper right corner of the home page.