Shutter Island Reviews
I'm going to put it all out there and admit that psychological thrillers are one of my least favorite genres, I don't even really like Alfred Hitchcock's films, absolute sacrilege, I know. I can appreciate Sudden Fear (1942) but that's mostly because of the sheer brilliance of Joan Crawford who could sell me anything. This movie leans hard into the genre with insane twists and turns and campy performances that require you accept that the world the film exists in is entirely unrealistic, something I often have a problem with. With that confession out there I will be reviewing the film through that lens.
The problem is, I was not at all invested in the initial mystery and when the rug was pulled out from under the audience I just thought it was silly instead of being genuinely shocked and amazed by how they tricked me. The fault, I believe, lies with Laeta Kalogridis, the screenwriter, who is so often able to squander great stories behind her unwieldy handling of third acts. This film's sudden plot twist feels similar to the Ptolemy twist in Alexander (2004) in that it loses it's dramatic effect due to weak dialogue like "They are people, you can't be loved like them." Why she keeps receiving work I don't know but if she sticks to the increasingly less popular slew of Terminator sequels, reboots etc. then I will not have to endure her terrible writing in Ô~prestige' pictures.
The performances seem like something out of Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Ben Kingsley has echoes of Harold Vermilyea, and they don't entirely work when presented with Scorsese's modern filmmaking sensibilities. DiCaprio is giving a performance that asks him to look confused for the majority of the first half of the film an eventually just insane. This lack of character development prevents DiCaprio from portraying any real change and, this is largely the poor script, but the lines he delivers are largely one-note. His two leading ladies, Michelle Williams and Emily Mortimer, are both tremendously talented actresses but they get very little do here and are perfectly acceptable crying whilst looking wistful. von Sydow and Kingsley fit the pulpy tone of what the film is trying to be but their roles are undercut by the film itself.
At this point in Scorsese's career, after The Departed (2006) and before Hugo (2011), he seems rather lost having just produced one of his better films as he prepares to make a film that lands with a dull thud. Lehane's novels are clearly popular for adaptation, with Mystic River (2003) and Gone, Baby, Gone (2007) but unlike Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck he seems unable to create an appropriately engrossing mystery. Mysteries have been some of the most acclaimed films of all time from Vertigo (1958) to Chinatown (1974) and Shutter Island in no way equals those films. If he had just taken some of the pizazz or found a good screenwriter to put some darn suspense in this story and put this above the average not-quite-there mystery.
I would not recommend this film to most unless this is a genre that they love and in that case I would recommend they watch My Cousin Rachel (1952), Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Mildred Pierce (1945) before venturing to watch this below average thriller. It is worthy of being his 22nd best film. I am so glad that Scorsese bounced back to make The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Silence (2016), far better films, that contain a lot more of the visual aesthetic and clever writing that he is known for. Almost everyone who worked on this film went on to do better things and hopefully put this behind them.
the movie is so underrated
its deserves a much better score