Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Shutter Island

Lowdown: A marshal goes to investigate the disappearance of an inmate at a mental asylum set on a small island.
Leonardo DiCaprio must have a thing playing the husband who is tormented with the loss/losing his wife, because he did it in Inception and in Revolutionary Road, and here he is doing it again on Shutter Island, where he joins forces with Martin Scorsese yet again.
Shutter Island takes us back to the years shortly after World War 2, when the main activity people partook was smoking cigarettes. DiCaprio plays a US marhall, accompanied by his brand new partner with whom he never worked before (Mark Ruffalo) as they go off on a stormy ferry ride to Shutter Island: a small and severe weather probe island off the Massachusetts coast that hosts a mental asylum from which a patient just seemed to have disappeared into thin air.
The reception our heroes receive as they arrive on the island is almost as cool as the weather. The guards are a scary looking bunch, and the chief psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley) may claim to be a kind person whose patients' welfare is at the top of his agenda but he certainly does not seem to be acting up to his word. Obviously, something is very sick with the place, and it’s up to our detectives to find out what it is as they delve into the mysteries of this foreboding place where things are not as they seem to be.
The key to understanding what Shutter Island is like is in the words “things are not as they seem”; this is one of those The Six Sense type films where perceptions change by the minute and you, the viewer, are expected to have fun through you being tricked by the director who knows more than you do but only exposes the thruth in modetration as if it was more precious than gold. I don't like feeling as if someone is doing their best to trick me, hence me not liking The Sixth Sense and hence me not liking Shutter Island.
I guess you can argue in favor of Shutter Island being a film that tells us what can take place in a society that lacks confidence and follows a McCarthyite line, something along the lines of what the USA is becoming like since September 11 and as the whole Wikileaks affair clearly demonstrates. That argument won't buy me in; there are better ways of making such statements than with this tale, particularly when this tale uses a Leonardo DiCaprio that continues to disappoint me by always seeming to try too hard.
Best scene: A special effect hallucination scene where DiCaprio sees his literally burning wife. Usually such scenes don't work because they are not convincing enough to make you think the dream is real, but this one works very well with excellent special effects.
Technical assessment: A good Blu-ray with a decent picture and an even better soundtrack that's augmented by often haunting music.
Overall: I'm sorry, but while this may be considered good cinema it is not my cup of tea. 2.5 out of 5 stars.


Wicked Little Critta said...

I found I didn't really get pulled in while watching this one. I didn't get any sense of chemistry from the love story with his wife, and I kinda saw the "trick" you're talking about from early on. So the motivating forces of the film didn't move me much.

I do really enjoy Mark Ruffalo's performances, though...

Moshe Reuveni said...

I didn't get pulled in for other reasons. I won't go over the ones I've already mentioned, but I was afraid of the film becoming more horror like (a quality I dislike). I turned out to be wrong, though; and unlike you I didn't see the "trick" early on, and looked for reasons to believe the trick is about to be cancelled out by yet another trick. The film is obviously made to pass both interpretations through, which is one of those ambiguities that annoy me.
While I agree with you about Ruffalo I have to add the film did not make me want to visit Massachusetts. All the women there are crazy.