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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review of film: “SHUTTER ISLAND”

2010, 02-03:

Review of film:  SHUTTER ISLAND


Martin Scorsese


Laeta Kalogridis (screenplay)
Dennis Lehane (novel)


Leonardo DiCaprio
Mark Ruffalo
Ben Kingsley
Max von Sydow
Michelle Williams
Emily Mortimer
Patricia Clarkson
Jackie Earle Haley
Ted Levine
John Carroll Lynch
Elias Koteas
Robin Bartlett
Christopher Denham
Nellie Sciutto           
Joseph Sikora

MPAA Rating:

R for adult language, nudity & violence.


“[Tagline:]  Someone is missing.”
“Pull yourself together, Teddy!”
“Your boys seem a little uneasy.”
“You will obey…”
“The law of 4. Who is 67?”
“It was as if he evaporated.”
“I never QUIT anything before.”
“You’re smarter than you look.”
“The BRAIN controls everything.”
“Good loves violence.”
“You came here alone.”
“Why are you all wet, Baby?”
“Let’s put them at the table…  They’ll be our living dolls.”
“I killed my wife…”
“Wiser to live as a monster…”

MY Rating:

8 of 10 stars (based on an advance screening of the 138-minute film).

Is it a “Plague” of VAGUE?

I’m sure some people will find this film “brilliant”.  I didn’t:  I found it very WELL-ACTED, with a fine “atmosphere” to the “psychological thriller” (as created by Scorsese)--  but difficult to really “enjoy and feel “good” about (because of a lot of inherent sadness and confusing “by-ways”)…

…  It’s 1954, and there’s an “eager” U.S. Marshall named Teddy Daniels (LEONARDO DICAPRIO) who’s exhilarated to have been sent to isolated Shutter Island, Massachusetts to investigate the disappearance of a violent mental patient from Ashecliffe Hospital there…

…  Leo’s not too thrilled with the roughness of the boat trip to reach the place, or the fact he’s been paired with someone new -- Chuck Aule (MARK RUFFALO) – as an assistant... 

…  He’s surprised to see the high level of armed protection and unfriendliness by the guards, the Warden (TED LEVINE) & Deputy Warden McPherson (JOHN CARROLL LYNCH).  It seems odd that they in-effect demand “permission” from them for things he wants to do in his examinations…

…  As Leo & Mark check out things, they are struck by how powerful chief Doctor Cawley (BEN KINGSLEY) seems to be.  He explains how he believes in using “understanding” rather than the newly-popular DRUGS to try to help the condition of their patients (all of whom have violent backgrounds)…

…  When he’s introduced to Ben’s associate Dr. Naehring (MAX VON SYDOW), Leo is quickly reminded of some experiences he himself had in liberating a concentration camp from the Nazis in recently-ended World War II, & in-effect dramatically “confronts” him about his somewhat “hidden” German accent…

…  Mark in some ways is reluctant to go off to the “restricted” areas of the island as Leo wants to do, but he tends to eventually “go-along” with him…  Questions arise about whether the “disappeared” inmate Rachel ever “existed” at the prison, as numerous “unexplained” things keep popping up about her & the supposed crime she committed of drowning her three children…

…  Bit-by-bit, we see Leo is suffering from ever-declining HEALTH for some unknown reason--  and there are implications someone on the island may be purposely “causing” that…  At the same time, he is increasingly bedeviled by discomforting DREAMS, including of his late wife Dolores (MICHELLE WILLIAMS), who died in a horrible fire & who keeps “talking” to him in the dreams… 

…   Leo keeps trying to find people he feels are “involved” in her death, including George Noyce (JACKIE EARLE HALEY) who he thinks has some “knowledge” about it, and a guy named Laeddis (ELIAS KOTEAS) who he thinks was RESPONSIBLE for the fire... 

…  As he searches for people, he & Mark are beset by horrible weather (including a hurricane) and a widening web of uncooperative prison authorities…

…  Eventually, the prison honchos tell him Rachel (EMILY MORTIMER, as # 1) has been “FOUND”…  But rather than “clearing-up” things, it leads to more mysteries as he himself later chances to find the “REAL” Rachel (PATRICIA CLARKSON, as # 2) hiding out on the island…

…  As the story unwinds, Leo begins to suspect that the authorities may be practicing some ILLEGAL actions with the inmates.  The more he scrutinizes things, the WORSE it looks-- & the more his own dreams start to “trouble” him…

…  What’s the “true” situation concerning Rachel?…  Is Mark actually working on LEO’S “side”, or covertly for someone else?…  Are UNETHICAL things being done by the doctors in charge of the prison?… 

…  Will Leo FIND the people he’s “secretly” searching for concerning his OWN past disturbances and puzzles?…  What’s the real “STORY” concerning Leo?…

… It’s the “unwinding” Scorsese establishes in the overall story that’s particularly impressive in this film, & there’s certainly some finely effective enigmas, excitement & “mood”… 

…  An associate thought the film was “great”.  To me, it was just very good overall (with a bit too MUCH “confusion”)…

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