Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shutter Island

I have spent most of Spring Break on the couch recovering from a nasty stomach virus. But today, I finally got out of the house! We went to see Shutter Island.

Shutter Island (rated R, 138min)
This is Martin Scorsese's latest film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It is presented as a classic thriller, with classical music, flashbacks, rain, dim lighting, and all. From the beginning you know that you need to be watching for clues because nothing is as it seems. The story presents itself in 1954 as two US Marshals who arrive to an island housing a center for the criminally insane that happens to be missing a patient. Teddy (Leo) leads the investigation and finds out more and more about the island's inhabitants.

The story (who is really insane here?) isn't entirely original but I am always up for a new twist and turn. This film delivers that twist. Mostly because Scorsese doesn't give the audience the appropriate clues to pull all the threads together on their own but instead concludes the mystery in one summarative scene. I think the film would have been much better by giving the viewer the information and leaving the ending in the minds of the viewers to figure out....making them want to watch the film again right away and discuss it with everyone. (I will acknowledge the final line of the film attempts to do this but fails) (I will also note that this is my opinion based on one viewing, I plan to watch it again to see what is there up front)

Stylistically, the film does deliver completely. Many film noir staples help to set the mood and mystery. The setting is spot-on. Who doesn't love a good insane asylum, this one based in a Civil War camp. Isolated rooms of white walls, fedora hats, stiff drinks, filthy cells, swinging lights, lots of water (rain and ocean) all contribute to the darkness. The costuming is beautiful. The men's tailored suits are perfect. Michelle William's yellow print dress is stunning. The music is a bit distracting at first but serves its thrilling purpose. The special effects are simple and do not distract from the acting or story.

As far as the direction goes, I think Scorsese decided to go off the usual and make a thriller/film noir and accomplishes this. I think he does mob movies best but this is better than most other current films in the genre (I think young film makers go from thriller to horror too fast). It is a nice throw back to the great films of the 1940-50's.

I enjoyed it and recommend you check it out when it comes out to DVD.

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