Thursday, September 1, 2016

Why Haven't I Seen That?: SHUTTER ISLAND

Welcome to a new installment of WHY HAVEN'T I SEEN THAT?, where we talk about a must-see or iconic movie that we have never seen...until now. This week we take a look at Martin Scorsese's 2010 forgotten gem...SHUTTER ISLAND.  Enjoy.

U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is sent to Ashcliffe Asylum for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. Accompanied by Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) the two are tasked with finding a patient who has escaped the asylum. A trail of clues, tricks, and riddles leads the two detectives around, under, and across the asylum in search for any new leads that will bring them to the patient; Rachel Solando. The film takes the two on a wild goose chase, looking for men who don't exist, suspecting the wrong people and ultimately creating one of the most unnerving cinematic experiences in history. Let's dive right in to it's perks.

Scorsese is revered for creating cinematic gold. Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, etc. All films studied and worshipped by film students and cinefiles alike. And don't get me wrong, these are good and well crafted films but I think we start to really see the things that Scorsese cares about as a director in his less well known works. For example, we get to a see dialogue heavy interactions between nearly every character that Leo interacts with. Giving Leo a chance to not only flaunt his "master of the freak out" title, but also express quite a bit more emotion like intimate romance scenes with his dead wife, or truly persistent detective work with the staff and other patients. I think that the longer Scorsese has gone on directing, the less it's been about the technological or the "critically acclaimed" works, but more about what he can get out of actors. Scorsese clearly likes working with several actors again and again, and I believe it's because he likes giving them chances to broaden their horizons.

The film is a wonderfully crafted, if not the most brilliantly crafted psychological thriller. Look at films like Se7en, Blow Out, The Conversation, etc. All these films hold up very well and just give directors the chance to flex their creative muscles if you will. But for Scorsese, psychological thriller seemed like new territory to him. But I don't think he saw it that way, I think he saw it more as something new to play with and experiment with, which would lead us to believe why the film is so dialogue heavy. Almost every secret about the overlying mystery of the film is revealed through dialogue. Every time the mystery in the film evolves into a brand new mystery, it's through dialogue. I think Scorsese wanted to both show and tell versus just picking one. He gives us pieces of the puzzle to chew on, and to let it marinate in our brains but never fully serves us the meal. Even when the big twist at the end is revealed, we don't receive every answer to our copious number of questions. We just get explained the basics. So I think Scorsese wanted us to just kinda sit back and enjoy the purity that was a thriller, and let us chew on the tropes and expectations for moments, then slap it right out of mouths and hand us new pieces.

That being said, the film is very pleasing visually. With acclaimed cinematographer Robert Richardson at the helm, we get visually pleasing, with a dash of lighting brilliance. Following his typical, very hot, top down lighting style, it flows and fits very well into the film.

Shutter Island may be a forgotten gem in Scorsese's filmography, but it certainly shouldn't be. If anything, I want Scorsese to do more because it's so eye appealing and wonderful to listen to.

Joshua's Score: 10/10

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