Shutter Island (2010) - Spoiler Alert! Yeah all over this blog entry! Shutter Island is the new thriller from director Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. It is set in 1954 and DiCaprio's character Federal Marshall Teddy Daniels arrives at an asylum for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a patient. They enter with really too loud and disorienting music that had the audience covering thier ears and questioning the decision making of Scorsese early on in this film. Teddy his new partner they begin an investigation that does not end where the viewer would first think. As they work there way through their interviews of staff and patients it is clear that the agents are not in on the full story. It becomes more and more clear to the audience that Teddy is not the most solidly put together agent in the world. The hints are not subtle in this film and questioning the writing as too on the nose in some scenes seems reasonable, but it is a complicated enough plot and the acting is decent. Choices in the writing and directing just did not work real well. The reoccurring hallucination of Dolores Chanal (Michelle Williams) as Teddy's wife was probably the best of the choices. Her reveals were subtle and then she become more important in the end. We become aware as the story unfolds that Teddy may be a patient, which seemed a bit obvious in the previews without ever seeing the movie. His final realization comes when he confronts Kingsley's Dr. Cawley and learns that Cawley is trying this one final ruse to let Teddy play out his agent fantasy and come to terms with his real life tragedy. Again in a really not needed scene after learning in real life that Teddy's wife had killed his children and then Teddy had killed her, we are subject to watching the melodramatic scene. It did not really seem necessary other than a big time actor like DiCaprio was not going to pass up the chance to flex his acting muscles. So everyone in the asylum were putting on this elaborate play to break this one, supposedly the most violent person out of his Marshall Teddy fantasy and hopefully avoid having to lobotomize him. It seems to work to, but the big point is still to come. After the confrontation will Teddy slide back into that character the day after the confrontation? Can he live with his guilt and pain and change his life?
This was a decent movie, it was unfortunate that advertising has to give so much away in order to attract an audience. The director makes some questionable decisions that pull you out of the movie instead of enhancing it and the writer (Laeta Kalogridis) was not shifty enough to "not give away" the plot before its time. Still the acting was good and it was an interesting and engaging film. After listening to the writer talk to creative screen writer it is obvious the things I picked out were intentional decisions, but I still dont think they worked out.
Creative screenwriting interview with Laeta Kalogridis