Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shutter Island: Truly, Madly, Deeply Dissatisfying


SPOILER ALERT! The movie is stunning--visually, aurally, in all areas of craft; alas, as Scorcese himself has admitted, story is not his strong suit. Well before its roughly 2 hours and 25 minutes are up, this movie suffers from a debilitating lack of narrative drive. On top of that, it's neither scary nor particularly dread-inducing (in the way of, for example, a "Rosemary's Baby"). And when the movie finally cuts to black, it's extremely deflating, disappointing, and, ironically, abrupt. We've come a long way with Teddy, and we have too much invested in him to have him acquiesce in the end. We hope for another twist, we want him to triumph, because this is a pure genre piece in the vein of Hitchcock, and DiCaprio is our hero. The idea that he may be the one who is mad is drawn out too long; we can't imagine that it will end there. So we're relieved when the flashback to the lake cabin appears to re-assert his sanity....

In "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," even though McMurphy didn't win the battle with Nurse Ratched, the Chief "freed" McMurphy by smothering him, and then the Chief broke out of the hospital. In "Shutter Island," Teddy accepts his fate with dignity, but it feels like a whimper, when what this movie cries out for in all its other elements is a bang.

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