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Movie Review: Shutter Island

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Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years and 3 months ago

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Written 2/20/10

Paramount’s Shutter Island has finally arrived. With an expected opening day sometime in October, ’09, the studio decided to hold it back. Much to this delay has to do with their belief in the film as Oscar-worthy, and felt moving it up for next season’s Oscars (2011) might be better, but truth be told… unless a film has a strong “IT” factor, early releases wind up forgotten and well, we’ll see it advertised on Netflix with simple promotion. Whatever happens remains to be seen considering its director and talent, so all the best...? Yea, much luck! However; personally, I have an issue with this film. The issue is I’m not sure where I really stand on it. It’s a 50/50 feeling on it and I think it’s because of the following… I enjoy Scorsese very much. His track record of films lends itself to a solid stance. From stories to direction… from talent to scenery, the man has a solid grasp. Moving Mr. Scorsese to the side, there’s also DiCaprio, Ruffalo, and Kingsley who undeniably have their track record as well. It speaks for itself so I will not get into it. However; there’s always a moment in time where it truly expresses the term “Can’t win them all,” and perhaps to the contrary of others, I think this is one of those moments.

Once upon a time, it's 1954, an up-and-coming U.S. Marshall and former WWII Vet, an emotionally haunted Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Boston's (or Bah’stan) Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. He's been pushing for an assignment on the island for personal reasons, but before long he wonders whether he has or hasn’t been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors whose radical treatments range from vile to illegal to downright sinister. Teddy's stern investigating skills soon provide a promising lead, but the hospital refuses him access to records he suspects would break the case wide open. As a hurricane cuts off communication with the mainland, more dangerous criminals "escape" in the confusion, and the puzzling, improbable clues multiply, Teddy begins to doubt everything - his memory, his partner Chuck (Ruffalo), even his own sanity… which in turn winds up with a twist.

Psychological thrillers serve a purpose of pretty much rattling the brain. This film does just that, but it does it in such a form that even I felt like I was the one locked in an asylum. There’s a form of editing which was approached with this film I’ve never really seen before. Perhaps I have, but can’t remember, but this time around… it really took my mind into a realm of both cinematic ecstasy and withdraws. Much of Shutter Island has a pace which is dark and harsh to one’s sanity considering all of the unique settings with the film, but because of that abnormality, it kept my ass on that seat. Wondering… about what? I’m not sure… but truth be told, I walked out disoriented and with a migraine. I’m serious. That, contributions to temporary psycho-ville, along with some drawn out scenes is what left a nasty after-taste, but there were moments to which made me oversee the down-syndrome side of this mind-fucker. That would entail the simple question of wondering what would happen next…. And the only approach on trying to answer those questions was left to the film’s talent, and this is where I was okay with the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio does a good job as usual. I can’t think of anything that could have been different or better for such a mind twirling movie. The way he expresses himself when retching on the boat, and the look he gives himself in the mirror are realistic, spooky, and riveting. This alone sets the film off which does tie in with intrigue regarding his character and his connection to the rest of the story. Much of the same can be said for Ruffalo as well Kingsley who also serve their purposes very well. Ruffalo’s character of “Chuck” knows his levels when siding with “Teddy” … as does Kingsley’s character of “Doctor Cawley” who does whatever he can to make sure “Teddy” and “Chuck” stick to their investigation as he (Dr. Cawley) sees fit. The film also delivers a pretty good supporting cast which elevates the film’s mind-fucking approach and because of them, I can say there’s a liking towards Shutter Island.

Scorsese’s approach is pretty unique. I know unique is good, but sometimes has its W.T.F. moments. He builds layers and visual clues throughout the film which delivers pieces to this puzzle of oddity. There is symbolism and hints built within the movie that unravel and reveal the truth, which winds up the twist I mentioned earlier. In the midst of this film, it’s clear that Scorsese’s approach was totally picking one’s brain. There’s a lot to think about as the film goes along. So much that at times it does leave you (or me at least) with so much confusion, that it reaches a level of frustration. The film does fall into place after a while, but timing takes full control as you start to pick up on what the revelation is.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy brain-picking films, but as it moves along and moments start to come off as their own little films is where I kind of throw in the towel. Picture David Lynch’s Lost Highway…. There’s the perfect example of a film everyone “loves to hate” so-to-speak. Again, I’m sure there’s contrary to my feelings, but it’s just how I felt about it. It was a mental see-saw ride… In the end, like everything else, if you’re drawn by this film, take the dive and let me know how you feel, otherwise. This isn’t for kids, teens or anyone else who will approach it expecting to have a scare. It’s creepy and the type of film I think you’ll only see once.

In flip flop ways, overall, this piece will have some of you on the mental edge of (in)sanity, as most scenes build on each other. What will determine whether or not you like this movie is, of course, its ending. I will say this… please keep in mind that there are some scenes in Shutter Island that are bold and very much tense.

You be the judge!



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