Friday, February 19, 2010

Shutter Island

Shutter Island
Directed by Martin Scorsese

It's not often in life that you get to leave the theater, after having seen a Martin Scorsese picture, feeling a rush. Feeling impressed, sure. Feeling exhausted, as with The Aviator, and not in the rewarding sense? Sure. But a rush? Pshaw. No. These things are supposed to take a long time to digest, and they're not supposed to really hit you until the digestion is complete.

Shutter Island is Scorsese's stab at a Dennis Lehane novel, and, as a cinematic experience, it is utterly fantastic. The tone is tense without being exaggerated. You do not feel worried unless Scorsese wants you to, though he almost always wants you to. Simple shots of windows are terrifying, while offering seemingly nothing scary. There were many moments where a lesser film would have gone for the cheap scare, but this movie leaves most of the dissonance brilliantly unresolved. You are on the edge of your seat 99% of the time. Not to say you are necessarily scared... but you're antsy. Fantastically played.

The whole cast is superb, without anyone to single out as a downer. Leonardo Dicaprio is impeccable, as always, and Mark Ruffalo continues to show that he's not used often enough. He should be in more movies; we would all benefit from that. He is the type of actor who's work is always subtle enough that you can't notice it. To do so would violate the point. Michelle Williams has been making a slow comeback since her days on the 'Creek,' and she's phenomenal in her role. What she has to sell us in the few scenes she has would be formidable for any actress, and she fucking sells it.

What did surprise me, though, were the things that were wrong; none of them are excusable. The CG, which is admittedly used very little, was a bit obvious. Green screens were used to ill-effect, with the backgrounds in those scenes looking very, very fake. There was some incredibly sloppy editing, which in a Scorsese film is unforgivable. And, on a final note, whoever was in charge of mixing the sound for the first ten minutes of the movie should be shot. Or, perhaps, fired. I'm open to negotiations.

These little complaints do add up over the course of the film, and were occasionally distracting. Having said that, it is, I think, one of Scorsese's best from a directorial sense. I intend to see it again. As I've gotten away from it, I've started running it over in my mind, and I'm tantalised by what I think I remember. The end changes everything. Remember that. Or don't. Better yet.

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