Lara’s Solo Review of Shutter Island

25 Feb

Shutter Island held the number 2 position on my Most Anticipated Films of 2010 list. This was due to elongated anticipation (its release was pushed back from October to February) as well as the facts at hand: Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio working together again. Sold. And it’s a thriller. Double sold.

I’m not going to delve very far into the plot, as you probably know as much as you want to from the trailer: Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) venture to Shutter Island, a secluded hospital for the criminally insane, to investigate the disappearance of a prisoner/patient. (I discourage you from looking at the Wikipedia page summary, as it tells the ending within the second paragraph).  In many respects the film held up to my expectations; it looked spectacular, it had some thrills, and the acting was superb. Leonardo was at his finest, as were Mark Ruffalo, Jackie Earle Haley, and the always-great Patricia Clarkson. There were some thought-provoking sections of dialogue (the last line of the film gave me chills) that were excellently played out by every actor involved. However, for almost every great scene, there was at least one cheesy line or plot point. For instance, the last line exchanged between Patricia Clarkson and Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters offset an otherwise perfect scene, and it caused me smack my forehead in discomfiture. Not only that, but the plot bent this way and that, in a rushed manner in the journey toward its destination.

(Spoilerish) Surprise! There’s a twist ending. This in and of itself was to be expected, Shutter Island is a thriller that obviously tried to keep the audience guessing throughout, but it is the outlandishness of the twist that I didn’t see coming. Well, it was outlandish as well as being completely predictable. I can’t go into much more detail without entering major spoiler territory, but suffice it to say the end works in a way that completely covers its bases without any legitimacy. Any problem with continuity or fact that the viewer may have can be easily, and lazily, rebuked. Because of this rather than desiring to immediately watch the film again, as I generally do after twist-endings (The Prestige, Memento, basically anything Christopher Nolan has touched), I just feel cheated.

Creepy Gollum lady who serves no purpose except to appear in the trailer.

Now I am going to do something I never thought I would: I am going to compare a Martin Scorsese film with Paranormal Activity. Perhaps it would be more accurate and less disturbing to say that I am contrasting the two. While both films are horror-thrillers that were very successful this year, they completely foil each other. As far as aesthetics, Paranormal Activity uses a modern medium; the look of a reality-TV show, with poor lighting, embarrassingly cheesy acting, and up to date references, while Shutter Island tries its best to be fashioned in the way of a film from the 1950s; with obvious green screens, an over-dramatic score, and Hitchcockian cinematography. However, when it comes to the thrills themselves, the two swap styles: as in the olden days Paranormal Activity relies on build-up and sound effects, while Shutter Island utilizes the modern devices of grotesque images and excesses of blood to scare its audience. And, while I thought that those scenes were very powerful and looked beautiful, as much as I hate to say it, in this, and only this, instance I prefer Paranormal Activity. I jumped much higher at the sight of a door closing than I did at people covered in blood. If Scorsese had stuck with the classic filmmaking through and through the film would have much more credibility and would have been a lot more enjoyable to watch.

If you haven’t caught on by now, Shutter Island was a major disappointment for me. I did not like the plot, the pacing, and most of the static scare tactics. However, the film is not a complete loss, there are some gorgeous dream-sequences, amazing lines, and the acting is phenomenal. I recommend you not spend your fare on a trip to Shutter Island, but let it come to you in the comfort of your home.

feeling bad for bumping Toy Story 3 to the third position,



2 Responses to “Lara’s Solo Review of Shutter Island”

  1. Charlie Bucket March 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    I agree very much with this. Leo was wonderful. The Cinematography was incredible! and by incredible, I mean, I kind of hope it wins best cinematography. don’t you?

  2. Charlie Bucket March 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    p.s right after Jeff and I saw this movie, we came straight home and read this review and then discussed how we felt in comparison.

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