Thursday, February 25, 2010
Props to Scorsese's legal team, because I Google-searched for a total of three minutes before I became exhausted for a photo of Michelle Williams in Shutter Island. This was really the only one I could find, which is a damn shame, because her part in the film happens to be the most beautiful and compelling.
It's alright, I understand why there aren't any photos: this is a twist-ending movie based on the twist-ending book by Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River. If everyone was allowed to post stills willy-nilly on Google, well then, what fun would the movie be?
The answer is, it's still fun, regardless of whether you know the twist ending (I called it on Twitter about a month ago) or not. Shutter Island is Scorsese's attempt at film noir. Unfortunately, for him and for us, he ends up closer to M. Night Shyamalan than to Hitchock.
Teddy, played by a beefy Leonardo DiCaprio, and his partner Chuck, the dreamy Mark Ruffalo, are called to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Salando. Of course, by the time they get there, it becomes obvious that Teddy has bigger problems than finding Rachel. For one thing, he's wracked with anxiety and flashbacks to his tour in Germany during WWII, and visions of his wife, who died in a fire in their apartment.
Most of these flashback scenes are the reason to see this film - visually stunning, eerie and gorgeous, Michelle Williams (in a beautiful yellow house dress evocative of her Vera Wang at the Oscars with Heath) seems to get more and more beautiful as the years go by. It's no wonder these scenes are the ones that appear in the trailer. And DiCaprio does a pretty good job at playing tortured. That said, I will still never be able to see him as a man. Every time I look at him, I see this:
That said, after the twist, Leo's brutish performance morphs into something remarkable. The same goes for Ruffalo, who, after a simple costume change, becomes a completely different person. The other actors, who are so talented that their supporting-status in this film is practically insulting, Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow, seem to be playing down to the nature of the film. It's jarring - but appearances by Emily Mortimer and Jackie Earle Haley round out the ensemble.
Unfortunately, the stylistic music just gets annoying as hell, and the jumpy, black-out mental institution prison hallways are a bit much. This film houses none of the suspense of Taxi Driver or even The Departed (please, I don't expect Taxi Driver every time). Sadly (and predicatably) WWII is used solely for shock-value. Overall, there's too much silliness here for the film to get visceral. It's not a complete failure, but it is a failure, I think, for Marty Scorsese. Or perhaps this just isn't his genre.