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Shutter Island (2010)

Martin Scorsese’s oeuvre has passed me by. I hear the name. And I know of a few of the movies. But, on the shelf in my mind, I would probably arrange those DVDs by their leading actor, not their director. Hitchcock. Woody Allen. They get their own section.

So, I’m not making comparisons to Raging Bull (1980) or Taxi Driver (1976). Good movies. But there’s no comparison. It’s not even worth trying and it’s not fair.

Shutter Island (2010) is – and now I regret mentioning Hitchcock – a psychological thriller. But, the experience isn’t thrilling and the psychology isn’t a maze of insanity and delusion that we need to keep us from checking our iPhones for more than two hours. It’s more like a long commute. We know where we’re going; we know how to get there; we don’t really want to go.

The central power of the psychological thriller is that we, as viewers, aren’t afforded with our ordinary omniscience. As we ponder whether the protagonist is actually insane, we realize that we can’t possibly answer the question based purely on the evidence – all the evidence we encounter could be part of the insanity. We have to just endure not knowing and enjoy the complexity of the puzzle. And, ultimately, it all reveals itself and we laugh a little. And, it turns out, we’re not insane.

But, Shuttle Island takes the potency of psychological thriller and forfeits it within about twenty minutes. And, so, without revealing it now – I promise you: you’ll know whether the protagonist is crazy or not pretty quickly. And then, once you’ve figured it out, you can leave the theater.

Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly a fine actor, let me add. I hated him for years. So very cute, adorning the lockers of every teenage girl in my middle school. I suppose I thought of him as competition. But, I suppose I can forgive him. It’s not like the competition was down to him and me.

2/5 stars. Competent acting. But, the rules of the thriller are broken to the point of boredom.