22 February 2010

Martin Scorsese's SHUTTER ISLAND - A Review

by guest columnist Michael Wendt.  Follow him on Twitter.

When Paramount announced it would be delaying the release of Shutter Island due to monetary issues, I became A) pissed because I would have to wait and B) slightly worried. They may have said it was money issues, but usually a delay means that the studio and or filmmakers are not confident in the product, and February is not usually a month studios release high quality films in.  Well, I am happy to report that quickly into Martin Scorsese's latest, all fears were put to rest.

The film starts off with US Marshal's Teddy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) traveling by ferry to Shutter Island, a compound for the criminally insane. They have been sent there to investigate a patient that has disappeared and potentially dangerous to the other patients and staff. Not too long into the investigation, Teddy begins to question many things on the island, including his partner, the doctors in charge (Ben Kingsly and Max Von Sydow), and the island, which seems to bring back haunting memories from his time in WWII.

The thing about this film is that telling more details of the plot could potentially spoil the ending and I am not the type who enjoys doing that. But I will say this, the film is meticulously paced.  It may appear slow at times, but it is paced in a way that makes the viewer start to look for different clues in much the same way as Teddy. The pay off is satisfying,  but it may test the patience of some film goers.  

The performances in this film are outstanding, especially DiCaprio. I have always been a fan of his work, but really feel this role gave him the opportunity to show his full range. I know it is early in the year, but I hope Oscar voters take notice of his work in this! Also nice supporting work from Michelle Williams and an almost unrecognizable Patricia Clarkson add to the depth of this great cast.  And as with any Scorsese picture, his attention to detail from the production design, to the music selections, to the cinematography is excellent.

This is one great looking film.

While I enjoyed much about this film, let me be clear: this isn't a film without its minor flaws.  It may goes on about 15 minutes longer than it should, but it's great to get an old fashioned genre picture from a master who clearly had a ball making it. 

3 1/2 out of 4      *** 1/2/ **** 

Michael Wendt is a Cleveland-based Actor, Producer, and Director.  His recent works include the documentary The End of the World As We Knew It which has played at several Film Festivals, as well as acting in the romantic omedy The Bride & The Grooms which had a limited release around the country last year. When not working on film projects, you can probably find him frequenting the movie theater or hitting a karaoke bar!


Jeffrey B. Palmer JPtwit said...

I really enjoyed this film and felt, as you mentioned, that it could have used some tightening with the edit. There were some flashbacks, back-stories, and hallucinations that certainly could have been cut down in size (not necessarily omitted entirely) but overall it was a fun ride. What had me thinking most hours after the film set in were all of the scenes with the staff who had to play along and pretend they didn't know DiCaprio's character. Some succeeded, others fumbled. Really cool stuff.

It wasn't a perfect film, but had its merits and did not disappoint.



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