Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shutter Island

I went to Shutter Island Tuesday night with high expectations, as the trailer was very captivating, leaving a taste of ‘more’. Was I satisfied? All things considered, yes. Would I give it a second look? No.

I felt that the original storyline was quite interesting, but a bit overdone at times. There were a few things that didn’t quite add up, and while I was expecting a twist at the end, I wasn’t expecting an almost complete overthrowing of everything that went before. (That’s all I can say without giving it away!). From that perspective, I thought that there was a huge build-up, much of it unnecessary, and this took from the overall film rather than enhance it. The actual outcome also was too contrived, too neatly packaged, to be entirely believable. But yet I was left with questions…which is, to the film’s credit, a positive thing.

These questions were aroused mainly from the flashbacks that visited Teddy, the male lead, whose duty was to examine the disappearance of Rachel Solando from the unit for the 'criminally insane'. Repeated images and episodes from his past complicate this duty, giving us, the spectators, clues that all is not 'kosher'. These images are for the most part artful and aesthetic, eg, a colourful scene embracing his beautiful wife, who crumbles to ash in his very hands.

A few examples of how certain aspects of the film were extraneous, was the intensive questioning of inmates (er, patients), at the beginning. These characters seem important, yet there is no more mention of them, or their relationship with Edward (Teddy) after this. Another character who’s built up, to the backdrop of spooky and atmospheric Mahler music, is the enigmatic (senior?) psychiatrist,Max, who I expected would have a pivotal role in the outcome, but who simply fizzles away, as the actuality of events is exposed. There is a link here between his German nationality and the war that plagues so many of Teddy's thoughts throughout the film, but again, this is unexplored.

The characters were well played, di Caprio proving to be capable of multiple roles, and seeming to go from strength to strength as he matures. It was a very different departure for director, Scorsese, but he handled it relatively well. I was also impressed with the soundtrack, and felt it added very much to the overall atmosphere of the film. If you enjoyed A Beautiful Mind and The Others, you will probably enjoy this, though it wasn’t, in my opinion, as strong as either of these films.

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