Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shutter Island (2010)

A psychological thriller that takes place
on an island mental institution.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Michelle Williams and Mark Ruffalo.
Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow.
Based on a New York Times Bestseller.

Big names, big budget, catchy concept.
Does Shutter Island pan out?

Shutter Island delivers payoffs. Patience is required, especially through an abundance of expository dialogue, but when the film's questions are answered, the trip was worth taking. Kalogridis' script (based on Lehane's novel) spins a labyrinthian tale of mystery, deceit, and paranoia. Scorsese's visuals compliment the writing through its complexity of the writing. Pay close attention to the visuals, and especially the editing, and you'll appreciate the film much more than those who don't. Jump cuts and purposeful errors in continutity place the viewer into the protagonist's shoes as he begins to question his mental state. Within the narrative, questions lead to more questions but rest assured that they'll all be answered.

The puzzle that U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) pieces together shifts between definitions, his motivations revealed layer after layer. It'd be cliche to remark on Daniels' psychological developments during his stay at the mental hospital but as the subplots continue to intertwine, the film results as a character study more than anything else. Set within a mystery plot, the film's dream sequences and flashbacks are multifaceted. Primarily serving as character development, these scenes also contain clues. Like any strong mystery, clues are everywhere but in Shutter Island they might as well be nowhere as the story's involution is heightened by the protaonist's involution. In other words, this is not Sherlock Holmes. Daniel's inner-conflicts weave within the mystery of the missing murderess (Mortimer) in a particular way that convolutes the entire detective work process. The upside to this weaving is that the story is strengthened instead of muddled.

Big names, big budget, catchy concept. Shutter Island does pan out. All of the questions are answered satisfactorily. The thrills are thrilling. The conflicts are gripping. The performances are effective. Shutter Island pays off. The visuals are stunning. The editing is extremely effective. All of the elements compliment each other with such strength that its original release date would have most likely proved to be a smart business move. There are rumors that Paramount released Island in early 2010 to mirror the success of Silence of the Lambs. While that paints of picture of faith around their film, it's clear that Island wasn't going to steal any Oscars from Avatar or The Hurt Locker and Paramount didn't feel like spending the money for a "loser." Who knows, maybe every release from March until December 2010 will be terrible?


Goose3984 said...

I can see your point, but i still have no interest in seeing this movie, Every phycological thriller I have seen in the past decade follows a basic plot structure and ceases to impress me in any way. I blame that on M.Night Shamalanmanlan

elgringo said...

And this one defintiely relies on a third-act plot twist. I wouldn't call it a must-see but it was better than I thought it would be.

Joe Baker said...

I'm in love with this movie right now. I think this will be the one divides most audiences early in 2010. Out of people I know who saw it, 2 love it and 3 hate it. And anyone who really dwells on the "twist" is missing the boat. This is a very dark film that succeeds on what happens after the twist is revealed and where it goes from there. Just brilliant stuff from Scorsese... again.

Reel Whore said...

Hey, I've inducted you into my Movie Menage post for Shutter Island. Check it out:

I've got to agree with Joseph B. The twist is secondary. There's so much more being said. It will be interesting to see how this will fare for awards by the end of 2010.

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