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Archive for the ‘Shutter Island’ Category

Shutter Island – review

Shutter Island – viewed 2/20/2010


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Like filmmakers Clint Eastwood, and Spike Lee, I have a love hate relationship with Martin Scorsese. He’s responsible for some of the greatest films ever (Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), and when he’s on he’s on, but when he’s off (Gangs of New York, Bringing out the Dead, and now Shutter Island) he’s way off.

“Shutter Island” could possibly be his worst film ever, what starts off as a great idea, and ends as a great (yet completely different idea) gets jumbled, broken apart and half-hazardly put back together in between, like the pieces of a bad jigsaw puzzle.

The film begins as Teddy Daniels, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, and his newly appointed partner Chuck, played by Mark Ruffalo, land on Shutter Island. They are US Marshals sent to investigate the disappearance of a woman who brutally murdered her three children by drowning them in a lake. Shutter Island is home for the criminally insane, and is a breeding ground for the cast-offs of society, but is insanity contagious on the island?

Teddy and Chuck get deeper and deeper into each of the three facilities (mens wing, womens wing, and the C wing for the super nut-jobs) on Shutter Island in an attempt to uncover the truth about the missing woman, and the truth about the facility itself. Teddy soon begins having tremendous migraines and seeing strange things in his dreams. The film then juts off into strange territory as flashback, after flashback is introduced telling us off Teddy’s past as an army man fighting the Nazi’s in WWII. We also begin to learn of his deceased wife in these flashbacks along the way. Soon Teddy begins to question the motives of the hospital and employees, and must decide who he can and cannot trust. Things get stranger and stranger, and start to make less and less sense until finally we are basically given an explanation for everything that is happening to try and tie up the jumble of a film with a pretty prink bow on top. Ok thanks?

“Shutter Island” has little flashes of greatness paying homage to films like “Vertigo” and “The Shining”, probably the two greatest films on paranoia and isolation. The problem is that these little flashes are given in the flashback vignettes and deter from the overall story confusing the viewer, and detaching them from the bigger picture. Creepy ghostlike children walk the grounds of the hospital, and darkened spiral staircases, and narrow hallways add to the paranoia at hand, but in the end it just doesn’t add up. The film is visually stunning, and you can feel the paranoia in the scenes shot in extreme, almost vomit-inducing, closeups, but what we are given is 10 different ideas for a film lumped into one.

I will say this Dicaprio’s performance is extraordinary, and he saves this film from being a complete waste of time. He has begun to show time after time, that he could possibly be the greatest actor working in Hollywood. While Scorsese may be one of the greatest directors alive, “Shutter Island” fails to emphasize this.

Grade: C-