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Shutter Island

Shutter Island (film)

Shutter Island

I wasn’t planning on seeing Shutter Island as the handful of people I know who did catch it had complained it was too long. But my dad liked it, so I gave it a shot on Sunday afternoon.

Shutter Island

“You’ll never leave this island.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Two federal marshals investigate an escaped patient on a secure island facility… or do they?

I’ll try to keep spoiler-related commentary till the end, as there is a twist in this tale. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a Fed with a rather stressed-out past. He and his partner are sent to Shutter Island, a secure facility for the criminally insane set on a rock in the middle of the ocean.

The facility is run by the slightly scary Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) who can’t explain how one of their inmates escaped from a locked cell. Very mysterious.

As the story progresses, the film gets more jumpy. Not as in “scary” – it skips about from topic to topic. Flashbacks start to appear in dream-like sequences as Daniels starts to dream and become ever more paranoid about the actions of the Doctor, the other island staff and the patients. Questions are unanswered or avoided, the patients seem to be acting in collusion with the staff - or scared of them.

There are some lovely sequences, in particular the dream where Daniels holds his dying wife as she turns to ash and blows away. Very well done and the special effects lend it a wonderful dream-like quality.

The acting performances are superb across the board. Being a Martin Scorsese film it’s not surprising that it’s beautifully presented as well. However, I do have some issues that I’ll go over at the end as they could relate to spoilers. I did find that it ran on too long, though. I guessed the “twist” very early on – about 10-15 minutes in, which is a shame. However, at the point where the pieces really do start to drop, the film should be on it’s final run-in. And it’s not. From this point, there’s maybe 45 minutes to an hour to go which is too long.

I’d be interested in reading the source novel to see how it’s paced, but the film is just a little too slow. A shorter running length would have had more impact, I feel. Still, a very good story and a superb cast.

HERE BE SPOILERS!!!!!!

You have been warned.

Alright. At the end of the film you find out that Daniel is actually mad. However, I guessed this very early on. How? Well, I’m not sure if this was deliberate on Scorsese’s part or not, but the editing throughout the film is very disjointed. Someone holds a cup, the view changes and they’ve already put it down. Someone lights a cigarette with one hand, the camera changes angle and they’ve moved it from their face to their side.

Now, this happens in films. Usually you spot this once every few minutes. But in Shutter Island, especially near the beginning, I was finding discrepancies almost every time the camera view changed in a scene. As I said, this could be poor editing. Or it could be the director hinting that things aren’t as they seem. Deliberately disjointed if you like. Which does make a lot of sense later on when we realise that what’s “happening” is predominantly in the mind of the main character.

What does anyone else think? Am I being overly analytical? Was the editor just smoking crack the week he did the work on this film? Or was Scorsese being really clever?

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