Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shutter Island: Scorsese's vacation home.

Spoiler alert: They're possible, but actually I don't think there's many...

For those of you who are new to this blog, you need to know that I am a) poor, and b) living within reasonable distance of multiple theaters that not only show movies for three or four dollars, but also have beer and pizza available.

This means that there is virtually NO movie I won't wait to see. And so, today's review, months after everyone else's, is "Shutter Island".

A couple more things you should know about me: I'm a wuss. I don't watch spooky movies if I can help it (When I originally texted a friend saying the movie looked good (way back in January), they responded with "YOU want to see Shutter Island? Who are you, again?"). And I like older Leonardo DiCaprio a lot. Also, I read tons of reviews. All the time.

So I had heard the twist, most of the reviews I read were bad, and my friend Ashley announced that it was ridiculous--so ridiculous, in fact, that she wanted to watch it again, just to see me respond.

All I need to tell you is this: Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo are federal marshals sent out to remote and treacherous Shutter Island, which was formerly, in part, a Civil War fort and now serves as a penitentiary for the criminally insane. The writers never let you forget the 'criminally insane' part--characters repeat it endlessly. One of their patients has gone missing, even though her cell was locked and she had no shoes! And there's a shocking twist!

That's all you need to know. What follows is two hours of dramatic music when nothing dramatic is happening, silence from the score when dramatic things ARE happening, and approximately one billion allusions to the twist. So many, in fact, that when a character finally commits the twist to real words, I leaned over to Ashley and said, "At least he finally said it! They've only told us eight times over."

Granted, I knew the twist going in. But for a Scorsese film, it just wasn't very good. I got the pulpy mystery quality, and the importance of the time setting, and the film looks good. But it ended up feeling longer than two hours, and I ended up not caring one bit about any of the characters.

When I came home, I discovered via the wonder of the internet that plenty of people LOVE this movie and think it's brilliant. So perhaps I haven't given it a fair shot. Perhaps I looked at it too simplistically.

Have you seen it? What did you think? What's another movie that you had to give a second try to appreciate?


  1. I'm the same way. When my wife and I saw it in the theater, we thought it was well-made, but that the twist was easy to see and pretty lackluster. We expected more. We expected literature and we got a dime-store novel.

    Do I regret the two and a half hours? Nah. I'm glad I saw it. But I think the movie was mismarketed on purpose. It looked like a horror movie from the trailers. Or at least a movie with horror genre conventions. As it stands, though, it's a mystery/thriller with a few creepy tonal elements thrown in for good measure.

  2. Didn't see it, but I liked your review. And I think Mark Ruffalo is cuter than DiCaprio, as if that matters.

  3. I think the "obvious" twist was pretty unremarkable, they telegraphed it pretty early. The two things I did like were: one, Scorsese's subtle hints along the way that things weren't quite right. (Example: DiCaprio's partner fumbling with his gun in an early scene. It was clearly an indication of something, but the meaning didn't become clear till much later. Another example: watch the interview scene closely, particularly the "RUN" lady when she asks for and receives a glass of water. There are all sorts of continuity errors there, and they're not accidental.) And the other thing I liked was, the more subtle twist at the very end, in DiCaprio's last conversation with his partner and what it revealed about his real state of mind. Better to live a monster or die as a good man? Good question.

    Anyway - it wasn't exactly what I expected, but in its own way it was quite well done I thought.

  4. haven't seen. too scared and too busy to see movies. trying to remember the last one I saw? I'd like to see Babies...

    I did see that scary alien movie though... what was it... something 9? omg I wanted to vomit the first third of the movie... almost walked out but then would have been bored waiting for boyfriend...