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Shutter Island: A Review

I knew what was going to happpen within 20 minutes of the movie.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. In my honest yet humble opinion, I am a firm believer that Leonardo DiCaprio can do no wrong, but maybe that's just me...

In all seriousness, however, let's get on with the review. If you don't want the story to be spoiled, stop reading right this second and check out this hilarious blog that I just found the other day:

Hyperbole and a Half - It's seriously hilarious.

Moving on...

To say that I knew what was going to happen within the first 20 minutes might be a slight overstatement. Not by much, but still.

First, let's talk about the actors. As I expressed earlier, I am a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and have sincerely enjoyed watching him grow up on screen, honing his acting craft to become an extremely talented and skilled actor to be reckoned with. His performance as Teddy Daniels was completely believable, and even later, once we've discovered that he's mentally ill, he fully encompasses his character. I don't doubt for a second that he believes the world that he has created for himself. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sigh... So. Pretty. (Even if he is grimacing!)

At the beginning of the movie, Teddy Daniels, a US Marshall, joins his brand new partner, Chuck Aule, on a ferry that is taking them to a hospital designed to treat the criminally insane. A woman, Rachel Solando, has inexplicably escaped, and their job is to find her. She is a delusional woman, guilty of drowning her three children after her husband is killed, and she believes that, in spite of the fact that she is living in this asylum, she is still inhabiting her old home. To her, all of the doctors and staff are postmen, delivery men, etc.

Teddy and Chuck walk around the asylum (their firearms have been taken from them because they are not allowed to be packing heat while within the electrified hospital gates for safety purposes) and ask questions of the staff and somewhat functional patients, but everyone seems to be giving them the run-around. In fact, everyone seems to be out-right lying.

After a lot of snooping around and obligatory scary moments involving crazy people, Teddy finally makes his way to an enigmatic lighthouse which is located just outside the hospital because he believes it is the key to cracking this place wide open. He believes that they are experimenting on the patients by lobotomizing them or using other dangerous methods to quell the crazies, but exploration of the lighthouse only reveals that Teddy is not Teddy at all. Instead, he is Andrew Laeddis, a delusional former US Marshall who killed his wife after she, in a fit of mental illness, drowned their three children.

The whole movie was one of the largest role-playing exercises ever completed at the hospital, and it was all for Teddy / Andrew's benefit, to help him acknowledge and cope with the previous traumas in his life. His partner, Chuck, was actually his primary doctor, Dr. Shein. He had once before accepted his past, but immediately afterwards he regressed, almost as if his mind had re-set, incapable of dealing with his past. This role-playing was a final attempt to grasp Teddy / Andrew by the shoulders and pull him back into reality, and it works.

"My name is Andrew Laeddis, and I am here [the hospital] because I murdered my wife, Dolores, in the spring of ‘fifty-two after she drowned our three children." (paraphrase)

The next scene shows Teddy / Andrew sitting on the stoop of one of the hospital buildings, smoking. Chuck / Dr. Shein approaches him, and it is quickly apparent that Teddy has returned, and he is once again a paranoid US Marshall visiting the hospital in an attempt to blow the lid off of the place. One of the more puzzling lines of the movie, utteredy by Teddy, is as follows:

"Would you rather live the rest of your life as a monster or die as a good man?"

He says this just as he stands up and joins the orderlies as they motion for him to follow them. The audience then realizes that he is about to be lobotomized because the role-playing exercise failed.

So here's the question: Did Teddy actually regress at the end of the movie? Or did he make a choice to play the part of Teddy so that he would get a lobotomy? He couldn't handle what he had done and what his wife had done, so he made a choice after his second progression into sanity to pretend to be Teddy in hopes of dying "as a good man." I don't know, but it's totally trippy.

All in all, the acting was top-notch. Ben Kingsley was excellent as the head of the hospital, but who expects anything but excellence from him anyway? It wasn't only Kingsley, though. Every single actor was spot-on, completely present, and absolutely believable. During the middle of the movie, I kept catching myself thinking as if these people were actually mentally ill. That's the trademark of a job well-done, says I!

Another thing I really enjoyed about this movie was the soundtrack. It was entirely comprised of 20th century composers, and each piece fit the mood of the film so well. Of course, being 20th century music, some of it was really minimalist and simple, but, once again, the feel of each piece complemented the action perfectly.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure I'll go out and buy this movie, but it was incredibly enjoyable. I recommend it if you're in the mood for a suspense / thriller. Even though I essentially figured out the ending, there were still pieces of the puzzle that I didn't figure out until the last minute.

END RESULT: If you don't want to pay the money to go see it in the theaters, rent it for sure. It's a trippy ride to say the least. Trippy and all sorts of entertaining.



sylvia said…
I liked it, and I thought the shots were very beautiful, but a lot of it felt mechanical to me. The big problem I had with it was the editing, though. I couldn't believe some of the shots that were strung together with zero continuity.
*Leo has needle in hand*
*Man is afraid*
*Leo's hand is in a different place, empty*
*Man is afraid*
Stef Howerton said…
You know, I wanted to comment on the lack of continuity in my post, but... I forgot. haha I totally agree, though. It happened frequently enough for it to be annoying. Bad, editor, BAD!
Beth said…
O_o woah.
That pop noise was my brain exploding. I love trippy movies! Even hearing about them is awesome. Thanks Stef!
Guinevere said…
I want to see this -- it looks so interesting. Thanks for the review!
Summer said…
It's superb...But all Leonardo`s movies are perfect...and he is the best actor...he choices his roles and that`s why his movies are so interesting and meaning..

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