‘Shutter Island’ (2010)

[ WARNING :Uncharacteristically, this review is all SPOILERS, but this film is so well put together that you should consider my spoilers a feature, rather than a bug.]

Operation Paperclip Nazis working in criminal sanitariums off the coast of Washington State? Mind control? A WWII veteran and widower with PTSD? Visuals by David Lynch.

It’s 1951 in this film and the most unfortunate thing about Shutter Island is that Scorcese and writers Stephen Knight and Laeta Kalogridis decided that it’s okay not to make sense. They decide to just let go. Film is a visual experience and flourishes are flourishes, so why the fuck not? If your local cinemat can affor to spend $750k on a new 3D projection kit, you can sit and watch Martin Scorcese orchestrate some crazy in 2D. On Shutter Island, the Eater Eggs and Red Herrings run thick, wild and free. So wild, that you may want to pause and consider throwing a few back, before deciding which ones you want to take home to eat.

Emily Mortimer is both Rachel Saldano whom Marshals DiCaprio and Ruffalo have been sent  to find, but also a Concentration Camp victim that DiCaprio liberated Dachau back in ’44. Saldano was committed 8 years ago, after she stabbed and drowned her 3 children, but disappeared out of her cell 3 nights ago. DiCaprio and Ruffalo wake up one morning to discover that Saldano has returned.

And then Scorcese lets it all fall away, revealing that DiCaprio is, in fact a Nº 6 and he’s been lured to the island for treatment,  and that he’s apparently murdered his dead wife. It’s a brain teaser.

In the last scenes there’s an uncomfortable acceptance of roles, where DiCaprio and Ruffalo briefly acknowlege the role-playing game they’ve been involved in, before DiCaprio joins the men with the pitforks and shovels (literally!) to take his long walk off a proverbial short pier. Scorcese spares us the pier, but leaves us wondering what kind of mannerist, noir, magic realism thing we’ve just given 137 minutes of our lives to. It’s beautiful and occaisionally sublime to behold, but I somehow suspect Dennis Lahane’s novel makes more sense in print.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

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