Posted by: Jeff | February 23, 2010

Shuddering Through ‘Shutter Island’

Possible spoiler alert.

I saw Shutter Island, Martin Scorcese’s latest movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this past weekend and was all prepared to write a review summing up my fairly strong reaction to it – that is, until I read the review posted in DCist, which summed up everything I hated about the film so perfectly:

Scorsese muscles all of these genre elements together to improbably make what would otherwise have ranked among the most purely enjoyable films of the latter portion of his career. If not for those last thirty minutes. All it takes is a viewing of the two minute trailer to guess what the twist is going to be; watching the movie only makes it more obvious. Its grim inevitability saps a great deal of the enjoyment out of the rest of the film.

As Scorsese is reveling in riding the edges of the tension he’s generating, deftly punching the audience’s buttons with effective gotcha!-style scares and genuinely creepy atmospherics, you’ll find yourself having just as much fun as he obviously did making the film. But you’ll also find yourself consciously hoping that it’s not going where you think it is. Because that road leads to a far less interesting movie than the one you’ve just spent the better part of two hours watching. When the big reveal hits, it’s the first big yawn of the film, and the tension dies a sudden death as we wait impatiently for the film to tie up all of its loose ends.

Needless to say, I was greatly disappointed.  Unlike the author of the above review, I’ve actually quite enjoyed recent Scorcese films (Gangs of New York being one of the most underrated of the past decade, in my opinion), so had high hopes for this one.  In the end, the film suffered from being too obvious, but also from incorporating so many superfluous moments that were probably homages to some past Scorcese influence but did little to bring the plot any closer to resolution.  This is probably a film worth seeing, but not one that everyone will love.


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