Shudder, er, Shutter Island

Shutter Island is director Martin Scorsese’s new baby, and I finally caught it, late in the season, after being enticed by its Gothic whodunit trailer.

The island is an asylum for the violent criminally insane, back in 1954, with the impact of World War II and the Cold War adding undercurrents to what begins as an investigation into an escape and quickly develops into a far deeper, and more complex, mystery.

Leonardo DiCaprio is the investigating Federal Marshall who brings a whole baggage train of issues to the case as he faces off against the head psychologist played by Ben Kingsley.

The acting is uniformly superb, and I’m pleased to be able to vanquish thoughts of the execrable Titanic (just drown, won’t you?) while watching him work.

And Scorsese works up some delightful atmosphere with his bedlam visions.

But the movie falls sadly short of the mark that it could’ve and should’ve reached, and a damn sight sooner than its almost 140-minute running time.


There were a few warning signs that things were going pear-shaped from the get-go: unnecessary info dumps and a strange meeting between two cops, an overwrought score that thankfully settled down as the story progressed, and then the unnecessary expositions mounting up as the increasingly obvious (and slightly dubious) conceit was unveiled. I kept hoping for a further twist in the tail to unravel the conceit, but it wasn’t to be. There was, however, a very enjoyable and rather pointed, I mean poignant, closing scene.

And poor Max Von Sydow was wasted — he’s right up there with Christopher Lee on the list of actors who deserve chunkier roles, in my book — and an entire subplot told in flashback seemed all but irrelevant to the story in hand.

Good, but not great.

Among the trailers was the new ‘reimagining’ of a Nightmare on Elm Street: it looks tasty.

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