2/20/10

Shutter Island

Shutter Island (film)Image via Wikipedia
Here's the thing about Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island: it may be utterly predictable, but the storyline that can only really end one way is delivered in such a way that it successfully makes you second guess your predictions.

I can't really say much about the movie without going into spoilers, but I can tell you that it is beautifully shot, brilliantly conceived and very well performed. The way this movie is edited completely enhances the sense of paranoia and insanity that is supposed to be rampant at this mental hospital for the criminally insane.

But there's also a part of this movie that is a little more mundane, a little more typical, a little less great. On one hand, you have a movie that is beautiful, riveting, mysterious and magnetic. On the other hand you have a subject matter; insanity, conspiracy, multiple personalities; that is done to death in Hollywood, and usually done completely separate from actual scientific studies of these psychiatric cases.

Leonardo DiCaprio is brought to Shutter Island as a federal marshal to investigate the escape and disappearance of one of the patients. When he gets there, he finds the staff to be defiant and secretive. He suspects a conspiracy among all the nurses and doctors to cover up human experimentation on the mind.

I've given DiCaprio some flack in the past, and I was ambivalent to see him in this role, but I have to admit he was really, really good. It was, in part, because of his performance that I believed the ending might be different than I suspected. It wasn't different, but he made be believe it. And that's the signature of a great actor: to make you believe a lie.

Alright, I'm really stretching this thin now. I can't say anything else without spoiling it. So hit the Spoiler button for more!