"Gimme Shelter" offers a stunning look at adolescent homelessness and pregnancy in a film that reminds us of the meaning of compassion and the importance of hope, in theaters today.
Director Ronald Krauss has helmed a hard-hitting film about the options young mothers are faced with in today's society. His cast includes A-list actors that include Vanessa Hudgens, Brendan Fraser, Rosario Dawson and James Earl Jones, among others.
"Gimme Shelter" is based on a true story about Apple Bailey, an impoverished teenager who flees from her drug-addicted mother in a plight to save her unborn baby.
Struggling to survive and search for a life beyond the street, Apple is rejected at every turn she makes. Then, after her estranged father and stepmother attempt to force Apple's abortion, the teen runs away and finds herself back on the streets.
Fortunately, Apple is taken into a suburban shelter for teens where, for the first time in her life, she is able to bond with others and forge meaningful friendships with a sense of community.
"Gimme Shelter" includes real events and places along Apple's path, including New Jersey activist Kathy DiFiore's Several Sources Shelters where Apple finds refuge.
As a result, the film puts a spotlight on the incredible work done in Christian charities, proving that one person really can make a difference.
The film also sheds light on the struggle teenage mothers are forced to endure, especially early in their pregnancies when pressures mount surrounding abortion.
Meanwhile, Hudgens immersed herself into portraying Apple in what could very well be the role that defines the rest of her career.
The former Disney star is a red carpet darling, but the 25-year-old actress forewent all glamour while shooting "Gimme Shelter."
Barely recognizable, Hudgens not only gained weight for the role, but added piercings, filthy clothes, and a deep-seated anger and fierce determination that immediately resonated with the audience.
In another strong performance during the film, Rosario Dawson portrays Apple's drug-riddled mother, June. A particularly emotional scene occurred when Apple realizes that the mistake of her mother resemble that of her own, and was then forced to break ties.
Alternately, Brendan Fraser plays Apple's wealthy father who abandoned her well before her birth. The 45-year-old actor displays his character's struggle to both help and treat Apple with love, despite tense circumstances with his wife and young children.
Furthermore, James Earl Jones has soft-spoken but powerful role as a priest in "Gimme Shelter." The clergyman diligently works alongside Kathy (portrayed by Ann Dowd) to steer young mothers in the right direction.
"Gimme Shelter" hit select theaters across the U.S. on Jan. 24. Watch the trailer for the film here.