21 August 2010

Scorsese's "Shutter Island": "Someone is Missing"

In Martin Scorsese's latest film, Shutter Island (2010), we find the great director tackling yet another film genre, the psychological thriller. I saw it on DVD a few months ago, twice, and have been struggling to find a way to write about it since. The film is based on Dennis Lehane's excellent 2003 novel of the same name which I read about around the time of the book's release. My first reaction when I heard Scorsese was tackling this book was twofold: first, what is Scorsese doing working in this genre, and second, how is he going to make a film of that book.

That's not to say I had any doubts that Scorsese could pull it off, but I knew the master had his work cut out for him. As usual, he didn't let me down. This film more than anything makes me think of Hitchcock in his prime, but with a little something extra that represents, to my mind, a renaissance of the genre.

One thing I can tell you without playing spoiler is that Shutter Island does a fine job drawing you into the protagonist's perspective on the mystery. This is a film mentor of mine's observation. She, however, was disappointed in the simplicity of the solution to the mystery. As I note above, I wasn't. Though not a perfect film, I would recommend it highly.

That said, my recommendation is don't see Shutter Island with any knowledge of the plot or expectations about the world this film will take you to. I also recommend seeing the film twice in order to sort out the mysteries you're left with after your first viewing.

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