Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shutter Island

Shutter Island is a bizarre film, one I never bothered to see in theaters. The trailers for it were all spooky-horror sort of things but the film itself isn't really in that vein at all. This is sort of what I expected since it's directed by Martin Scorcese and stars Dicaprio, it's hard to see what sort of horror franchise they might have spawned. This film is purely suspense and like most suspense films holds a major twist.

I won't spoil too much of the film but Dicaprio is introduced as a US Marshal in the 1950's who is sent to investigate an Insane Asylum, Shutter Island in Massachusetts (the land of post 2000 Crime Dramas). This island is pretty fantastic, a virtual fortress with electrified fences and only one way on or off with razor sharp rocks barring all other entry. As he explores the island with his partner he gradually unravels some odd mystery of various theoretical experiments to abuse and improve patients.

The supporting cast in this film is fantastic, while the film itself isn't much different than say The Machinist it is greatly enhanced by all of the support. Mark Ruffalo plays Leo's partner Chuck very convincingly, Michelle Williams plays his wife to a spectacular note, Krishna Banji err... Ben Kingsley plays Doctor Cawley as utterly unreadable yet still sort of inquisitive and soothing. Even minor characters like the Warden and Deputy are all fantastic. There is not a single role that has more than 30 seconds of screen time that isn't impeccably acted.

Despite all the support and makings of a masterpiece this film does fall slightly short. I still think it is an excellent movie but it is one of the middle of the pack pictures directed by Scorcese, not as good as it could have potentially been. There are numerous great scenes in the film but it isn't very cohesive when you get down to it. The opening and ending musical themes are both terrible and overdone (though nothing through the middle of the picture is all that poor).

Ultimately the biggest problem with the film is the feasibility of the big twist, there simply isn't enough valid foreshadowing in the rest of the film to make it an acceptable result, while the individual scenes themselves make sense the acting is still relatively consistent throughout, there isn't a dramatic shift in any character except for Michelle Williams, which is pretty staggering considering Dicaprio should have been deeply impacted by the end result. This film made me realize that Dicaprio, while riveting in both Inception and the Departed, is playing the exact same character in both films as he is in this one and the acting certainly works but he isn't playing to the character, he's simply playing some apparition of himself. While it's nowhere near as bad as what happened to Pacino and De Niro it could feasibly get worse in the future.

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