Posted on 8/26/10 09:45 PM
While I would not call myself a film buff or aficionado (I rather prefer television and reading), I will say, without batting an eye, that I think Martin Scorsese is one of the true masters of the cinematic art form. Any Scorsese film is usually just inches from perfection for me. Shutter Island is no different, and while it's not as great as some of his prior efforts, it never fails to shock and amaze.
Let me get this out of the way: yes, I have read the Dennis Lehane novel upon which this is based. Yes, the novel is better. No, this does not automatically render the film poor or inept. It is, to me anyway, astounding.
Mr. Scorsese was the best choice to direct this thriller. The story and characters are just the sort he's been crafting for decades. The movie fits him like a glove and it positively oozes with his own style. Every scene showcases the man's masterwork prowess at stitching a film together, bit by bit. There's no a single scene that drags or feels wasted, and the whole time you feel as though you are in the capable hands of great storyteller.
Oh, it goes without saying the the direction is impeccable.
The writing is top notch. Every line feels raw and real, yet possess a certain amiable charm to it. Once again, there's nothing wasted here. Even the exposition feels natural and essential, a rare feat if I ever saw one. Laeta Kalogridis, the woman who headed the screenplay, deserves some kind of award here.
Of course the acting deserves some credit here as well. Normally, I don't focus on acting too much. Direction, writing, pacing, and presentation are all much more important to me than acting, so know that the acting is something truly special for me to mention it. Leonardo Dicaprio is some kind of amazing is his role as Teddy Daniels. Ben Kingsly, Max Von Sydow (who's always great) and everyone else are all simply elegant.
The only real complaints I have would be with the music score. Not that it's poor or anything, but in some scenes it it blares so loudly that it's hard to hear anything else. This may seem small but, it does it during some key scenes and can be rather distracting. Also, the film does drag just a bit in the third act, but beyond that everything about this is just great.
And the twist is just marvelous, I don't care what anyone says.
Shutter Island is easily 90%, maybe even 95%.