Sunday, 21 March 2010
Where to start with this one? I think viewers will either love this or hate it. I didn't love it. I think my son summed it up well when he said great beginning, the middle was an hour too long and it has a crap ending. Perhaps I didn't like being out manoeuvred by the plot. Perhaps I feel I should have seen it coming and because I didn't, I'm not prepared to admit that Scorsese is cleverer than me.
The acting is very good and Scorsese's direction is excellent. Set in the 1950's the costumes and sets give a sense of reality to the setting. The weather effects and the location positively contribute a lot to the story. It is gritty, maintains suspense levels well but ultimately fails because the conclusion is implausible or, in my view, something that doesn't satisfy.(Having paid £8 I was looking for satisfaction!)
It is reminiscent of Papillon in some ways, but tells a story that pays homage to One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and A Beautiful Mind. Apart from flashbacks, all the action takes place on shutter Island - a mental institution for the criminally insane. One of the 'patients' has gone missing and the US Marshall's are called in to investigate - Daniels played by DiCaprio and Aule played by Mark Ruffalo. The investigation repeatedly meets a brick wall in the form of Sir Ben Kingsley who plays the role of chief Psychiatrist Dr Cawley. He is ably assisted by Max Von Sydow playing Dr. Naehring who is his menacing self.
The institution has three wards: A for men, B for women and C for the most dangerous patients. Access to ward C is forbidden. Daniels is convinced that the Doctors are conducting experiments on the patients and tries to uncover what they are doing. Central to his investigation is the lighthouse which is just off-shore and can only be reached at low tide. Daniels is certain that it is here the surgery is being done. Will he make to the lighthouse?
I won't say any more for fear of spoiling the plot. It is engaging, it is too long and for me the ending is unsatisfactory. Others disagree as imdb.com is currently scoring it at 8.1/10 with nearly 40,000 votes and Rotten Tomatoes gives it 67% from 215 reviews. Go and see it and make up your own mind!
I'll give it 6/10