Monday, July 19, 2010

Someone is Missing

It’s time we dive into Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller, Shutter Island, and see if it ranks up there with his other work. (NOTE: Spoilers follow)

The film is set in 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) has taken on an assignment that leads him to Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. His job is to investigate the disappearance of a patient with his newly assigned partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo).

The hospital is filled with the criminally insane and twists and turns arise when he gets deeper into the secrets of the hospital. A hurricane then hits, leaving Daniels and Aule not only to solve the case but to survive what ever is going on behind the hospitals closed doors.

The first thing I want to talk about is the films performances. Everyone in the cast does their job effectively, but the one performance that blew me away was not even from a lead. The performance is that of Jackie Earle Haley who plays George Noyce an inmate in Ward C. He has a small scene with DiCaprio in the middle of the film and he steals it.

Now for the leads, DiCaprio does a nice job, the only problem I had with him was some of his line delivery in a very early scene; it felt like he was reading but after that he gets it together. Ruffalo does a great job and I thought his performance was good consistently though the whole film, same thing for Ben Kingsly character. The only thing I didn’t like about the Kingsly character was that pipe he has; sometimes I feel like he doesn’t know what to do with it. I also feel like that could have used Ruffalo’s character a lot more, in my opinion he was underused.

Now we get to Ted Levine who has a small role as the warden. Those of you who don’t know who Ted Levine is he played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and has that infamous voice. He has a small role but puts together a character that blew me away. There is a scene with him and DiCaprio where Levine discusses violence and it’s such a well acted and written scene that it has become my favorite of the film. Besides from that one scene, Levine is just in the background not doing much, which is a waste.

So the film has solid performances but what about story? Well the film’s story is very well constructed and has a steady narrative until the final act, where things start to be hurried along.

The film ends with a twist and the twist is believable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely bloated. The movie doesn’t leave anything for the audience to discover on their own, it tells you everything, which I thought was too much for such a small time space. What I think Hollywood forgets is that audience’s have comprehension skills to the point we don’t need to be told every little thing.

The film’s story is based off of a novel by Dennis Lehane who also wrote Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. To be honest I liked Shutter Island’s premise and story much more than the other two. I found that Shutter Island’s setting and characters were far more interesting and offered the audience something new and different.

Speaking of the setting, Scorsese does a terrific job in creating the island and also building up the feeling of uncertainty and impending doom. It’s a very nice looking film with every shot having quality. The scenes that really stood out to me were the dream sequences that Teddy Daniels has; they are creative, colorful and disturbing.

Summing everything up the film might feel emotionally distant to some, but Scorsese is able to put together a well constructed film and the cast give great performances that make this movie come alive. The third act does hurt it, but not to the point where it makes it a bad movie. It’s a deep film that has many elements, causing you to watch it twice to fully experience and understand everything. It may not be Martin Scorsese’s best work but it’s still very good.


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