Wednesday, 31 March 2010

You Blew Up My Car. I Loved That Car.

Meh, I don't have a great deal to say about Martin Scorsese's latest Shutter Island. I didn't think it was terrible, I just didn't particularly like it. I kept waiting for it to get scary, for the tension to cut through, and it never did. It was a seemingly constant almost there film, which seemed to get stuck in contentment with its own mediocrity. It was like Scorsese got tired part way through and thought 'ah, fuck it, I'll just coast with this one.' We've seen much better here and here, after all.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Teddy, a 'duly appointed Federal Marshal' heading with his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) to a mental institution for the criminally insane on the remote Shutter Island in Boston Harbour. The two are investigating the disappearance of a patient who must be hiding out somewhere on the island. Run by Dr Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the question is raised as to whether the hospital is running experiments on its patients. Teddy gets crazier and crazier, searching out a patient he believes to be responsible for the death of his wife in a fire (played in flashback by Michelle Williams.) He encounters sinister beings in Dr Naehring (Max von Sydow), who liaises between the board of directors and Cawley, and patient George Noyce (a terrifying Jackie Earle Haley), as well as the missing patient Rachel and a whole host of dreams and hallucinations. Gradually, and then faster and faster, Teddy descends into his own paranoid insanity... but I won't give away the twist, no matter how easy many people claim it is to pick.

The cast is terrific, and they do some good work. I thought DiCaprio was trying a little too hard with his intensity, but I think I can see why he had to go all or nothing... it was kind of necessary for his character development, but I found it quite irritating after a while. The rest were all exemplary, with Emily Mortimer and my love Patricia Clarkson popping up, and the performances and Scorsese's direction worked well with the way they had to play their cards - I found them all a little off to start with, but it all came clear as to why that was.

The elements of the film... meh. I thought the production design was waaay over the top, similar to the horrible and completely removed from reality look of Gangs Of New York. It was just so over the top. I remember a scene early on where there was dirt or mud on someone's hands, and it looked so fake, so hammed on because we're in the movies now, where it really shouldn't have distracted from the psychology of the piece. And some of the effects... how when you're working with a budget like that can green-screening or projection be left to look so, so unrealistic? Seriously. We all know it can be done better than that. Robert Richardson lensed it pretty well, getting in lots of moody tones and sinister scenes, but the sets he was working with left it all looking a little too hyper-real - not even psycho-hyper-real, just not-very-well-done-hyper-real. Though, art director Dante Ferretti isn't exactly known for toning it down.

So yeah, coming out of this I think it is definitely lesser Scorsese. When you've built yourself a reputation like he has, it's sad to see a film so average. But we all have our off days. Here's hoping the next one restores my faith. 2 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment