“Shutter Island”


WARNING: Spoilers abound.  It’s the only way I can properly make fun of the thing.

So, is “Shutter Island” great or crap? After watching it, I can’t stop changing my mind.  The film is expertly shot, and Scorcese directs the hell out of it, with great performances, visuals that are literally insane, and a constant atmosphere of dread.  And yet . . .

The third act of the film may be one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever seen.  No matter how much it was set up beforehand, the “big reveal” is laid out in such a way that I openly guffawed at the screen.  And yet . . .

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a pretty damn amazing performance.  He’s required to play an incredibly intense character, and he doesn’t falter.  The rest of the cast is excellent as well, with Mark Ruffalo excellent as Leo’s sidekick, and Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow chewing up the scenery like [famous fat celebrity] at a [popular chain restaurant that serves large amounts of food].  And yet . . .

Ben Kingsley’s scene, where he lays out the scenario of the entire film, left me a big pile of giggles.  Put it this way:  As part of his explanation for what we’ve seen, he has to pull out a chart.  He then says an immortally terrible line, that unfortunately, I can only paraphrase: “For us to convince you, we had to pull off the most wide-scale roleplay experiment of all time!”  Oh, how I laughed and laughed.  And yet . . .

It’s not like this is a big reveal.  It’s clear that Leo’s character is a wackjob fairly early on, and how it all ties in was, for me, the big mystery.  After a while, it was clear that something was up beyond the “missing victim” case, and the moving was heading down a much darker path.  So, it’s not right to say that I felt “cheated” by the ending.  And yet . . .

The way it’s revealed is through the clunkiest 20-minute exposition scene ever.  The movie literally stops to tell you everything . . . AND THEY HAVE TO USE CHARTS, AS WELL AS AN EXTENDED FLASHBACK!  And yet . . .

The final scene is oddly poignant, and DiCaprio sells it like a mofo.  Even after all of the ridiculousness, I was moved, and it made me think back on the movie and think that maybe I was wrong all along.  And yet . . .

After thinking about it, I realized that for the roleplay to pan out, they had to know he’d climb down a sheer rock cliff, and survive.  Oh, and then climb back up.  Oh, and it ends on a shot of a lighthouse that’s supposed to be meaningful but ultimately makes no sense.  ARRRGH!

Was it crap?  I still don’t know.  One of the most conflicting movies I’ve ever seen. I liked it better than Gangs of New York, though, so it’s not Scorcese’s worst.


8 thoughts on ““Shutter Island”

  1. I have not seen the film yet. But I believe that by trying to make yourself like a movie, you are allowing yourself to be influenced by unnecessary factors. You keep sighting that DiCaprio can act his butt off. It’s all fine and good that an actor has done his job. But if you have to wrestle with whether a movie is good or not, it probably isn’t. Even a prolific director and an amazing cinematographer can have an off-day. When you walk out of an awesome movie, you don’t have to wrestle with it. You know it. And every time you go back to it, it only gets better.It’s okay that Scorsese made a donkey turd Jesse. It’s okay. Shhh…. shhh…. it’s okay…

  2. I like how you save your really long movie reviews for my blog. Thank you. By the way, I like those tweets you write up about film.This may blow your brilliant mind, but sometimes, things are more than “good” or “bad.” I guess you could say that I wrote this blog to describe my numerous conflicts with the film. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what I fucking did!”Gangs of New York” was a donkey turd. This film is much more interesting, and I found it worth talking about. So I did. Fuckwit.

  3. I liked it. I agree about the ending, but I did enjoy the movie. And we don’t know that Leo climbed up and down the cliffs in real life; he also wasn’t dressed as a detective the entire time. Regardless of the twist, I still wanted Leo’s conspiracy theories to be right. I compare it to A Beautiful Mind…I will probably netflix it just to see it again knowing what I know now. Plot-wise.

  4. Good points, Shelley. What the hell did the lighthouse shot at the end mean?Even though, it’s a mixed bag, I definitely want to see it again. If that’s okay with Ryan.

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