5 SHELLS imagines a story of survival for two sisters in their "tweens" during a financial meltdown in the near future. What struck me most about this low-budget film was the strikingly, beautiful cinematography. It was filmed in the New Mexico deserts. The shots of the landscape were exquisite.
This is a dark tale of what a financial meltdown might look like. No TV, no utilities, no stocked grocery stores, no gasoline to drive anywhere, and people hiding out in their middle-class homes in run-down neighborhoods. The sisters, Matti and Joslyn, decide to walk on foot to find Grandma's house when their food supplies are dwindling. Matti brings a rifle with her, but with only 5 shells. The sisters' journey takes a toll on both of them. Matti is most chillingly effected by her quest to defend herself and her sister. In having to engage in violence, she transforms into a cold-blooded survivalist. This is reminiscent of what happens to many a child in war torn areas, for example, the child soldiers of Africa.
The sisters read the book, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, in the beginning of their journey. Sporadic references to the book show up in the film which leave the viewer to interpret how their journey relates to the Wizard of Oz story. I read that book once when I was in high school and found it quite horrifying and dismal compared to the Judy Garland film adaptation. I've also discovered that the story is an allegory for what is happening in the power structure of our financial system (i.e. Do not look at the man behind the curtain!). So one could have many points of view on how the Wizard of Oz story fits in with 5 SHELLS.
As well as being a deep character study of the transformation of a pre-teen girl, 5 SHELLS is a thought-provoking film on a dismal potential future on many levels.
Checkout the 5 SHELLS movie website for more information and a trailer
Go to BrinkDVD to purchase this video.
Posted by Jean Jessup. Posted In : Drama