March 30, 2010

Vishal's Shutter Island Review!

It’s easy to write off a renowned ‘Serious’ filmmaker’s forays into genre work as pastiche, homage, or that wonderful term that can turn any genre work into critically acceptable Serious stuff — metafiction. Gangster movies are now bafflingly exempt from genrefication, however. What used to be a tried-and-tested pulp fiction dynamo has been seen, of late, as a staging ground for Serious — and only Serious — Cinema, to the extent that heavily stylised or lighthearted forays into movie gangsterdom are perceived as less than desirable — even insulting.

For this state of affairs, you can blame Francis Ford Coppola, and to a greater extent, Martin Scorsese. Or rather, you can blame the reaction to the cinema they created, the gangster films that mixed pulp with fine cinematic technique. Even a mediocre, gutted adaptation like The Departed got a free pass because it arrived under the banner of Serious Cinema (the original Infernal Affairs was not, and much the better for it).

So when Scorsese shows up along with long-time collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio in what is categorically neither a gangster movie nor Serious Cinema, the critics scramble to the safety of the cliffs of Pastiche. Let them gawk from their perches and try to ascribe greater meaning to the incoming genre storm that is Shutter Island, because the rest of us are going to be too busy enjoying the rain and thunder to care.

a sumptuous, surreal, oftentimes harrowing tale
Precarious cliffs, and confusion with how to deal with things as they are presented is also at the heart of Shutter Island. The titular rock sits in the fog off Boston Harbor, and to it in 1954 come U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). The Marshals are investigating the strange disappearance of an inmate at the Ashecliff Hospital for the criminally insane. Its head psychiatrist Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley) is treating dangerous patients with the latest in medication and therapy, in the hope of curing them rather than locking them up and throwing away the key.

Suffice to say that all is not as it seems, from the disappearance of the inmate to the facility itself, and nearly every character has a hidden agenda.

Read the rest HERE


Pardesi said...

"Suffice to say that all is not as it seems, from the disappearance of the inmate to the facility itself, and nearly every character has a hidden agenda."

That sums up the mystique of the film for me! And while debates rage on about what the ending really means, for me it is an ultimate uplifting of the spirit as it shows a yearning for humanism.

The film reminds me of Steven Soderberg's "Kafka" but Scorsese takes the 'mood' to another level here with the real setting.

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