Rainbow Center shows Shelter, a film about a path to loving life

A shot from the film Shelter, 2007. (Photo courtesy of Shelter)

The Rainbow Center screened “Shelter” on Tuesday evening, a film that follows a confused, young Californian’s path to loving life.

Zach lives in a small home with his sister, Jeanne, and his toddler nephew, Cody. Zach plays the role of Cody’s father while Jeanne focuses on herself and her boyfriend.

The love and dedication that he provides for Cody is by far the most touching element of the movie. He puts Cody’s happiness above his dreams of going to art school and living on his own.

While Zach is trapped in his difficult home life, he also struggles with his long-term relationship with his girlfriend, Tori. He praises her as a best friend but wants their romantic relationship to be over.

The film takes an important turn when he reconnects with his best friend’s older brother, Shaun, on the beach during a visit home. They bond over their love for surfing, old memories, and their broken romantic relationships. It is obvious that Zach’s experiences with Shaun will become more than an average friendship. There is a sense that both men are relieved to have finally found each other during an unsettling time in their lives.

    The two begin spending time together every day. Shaun is the first character to praise Zach’s artwork and the hard work that he does for his nephew, Cody, so that he can have a happy childhood despite his incompetent mother.

    The two finally begin a romantic relationship when Shaun makes a move on Zach one evening. Shaun is Zach’s paradise until Jeanne becomes suspicious that he is gay. “I don’t want Cody around that,” she says.

    This unhealthy relationship with his sister holds Zach back for most of the film, even though he is significantly happier with Shaun in his life. In the end, he breaks free when he accepts a full scholarship to art school and moves into Shaun’s home with Cody as Jeanne leaves for Oregon with her boyfriend.

    Viewers determined in a short discussion after the film that many aspects of the film were relatable for people of all sexualities. One connected with Zach’s conflict between following his dreams and protecting his family.  Another understood the tough coming out experience that Zach faced.

    The group discussed that there was some confusion about what happened between Zach and his best friend, Shaun’s younger brother. There are no scenes at the end giving any closure or proof that they are still friends. Some also noticed that Zach’s father only shows up once in the first scene of the film, seemingly in poor health. He is only briefly mentioned again toward the end of the movie, but there is no way to know what happened to him or what significance he played in Zach’s life.

    Although there were some holes in the plot and unresolved relationships, the overall conclusion at the Rainbow Center was that the positive message made “Shelter” worth the watch.


Sarah Maddox is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at sarah.maddox@uconn.edu.