Saturday, February 20, 2010

Movie Review: "Shutter Island" starring Leonardo DiCaprio

As my long time readers know, my husband and I love to go to the movies. We usually go early on Saturdays because we like to avoid the crowds. Today, we saw "Shutter Island" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I love him as an actor. I didn't always, but for some reason, I really love him now. I also love Gerard Butler, but that's another story/movie. We have recently seen Wolfman but it was not a great movie so I am not reviewing it.

Before I share my thoughts about the movie, let me talk a bit more about Leonardo and why I like him. He is handsome but not the handsome/sexy actor Gerard Butler is. There is something about Leo that draws me to his movies. What I like best is, during his movies, it doesn't feel like he is acting, it's more like we are seeing a portion of his life. He sweats and gets red eyes, he shivers, shakes, gets angry, curious, finds the answer, all part of this little slice of his life.

Now to the movie review: First, anyone who sees this movie needs to understand it is about 2 and a half hours long and there are so many twists and turns in it, you have to pay attention, both to the dialogue, the action and the innuendo. It's exhausting, but worthwhile if you are up for paying attention.

The movie is set in 1954. Two U.S. Marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leo) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), are called to investigate a missing patient at a mental hospital for the criminally insane on an island in Massachusetts. Teddy is seasick/vomiting on the boat trip to the island (sweating; red-faced; really sick) stating he hates being around water. When they arrive on the island, there is an immediate air of uneasiness, as if there is something suspicious about the island, the hospital, the staff and the missing patient report. Plus, some of the inmates are "out and about" as groundskeepers/ landscapers, whispering as the two marshals walk by.

The hospital's chief administrator, Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley) is also suspicious. The two marshals begin their search for the missing patient. We learn the missing patient murdered her three children however she is delusional and doesn't realize what she has done. They search her room and find a cryptic note with the words "the secret of 4" and "67".

Teddy and Chuck begin the search of the island with guards as escorts. Storms start up and a hurricane hits the island. They stop their search. In the meantime, Teddy gets flash backs. His wife, like a ghost, keeps appearing and we learn that his wife and children died in a fire and this evil inmate of the hospital may have set the fire. Teddy also flashes back to his time as a soldier in WW2, capturing Nazi soldiers in a concentration camp full of dead Jewish bodies stacked high. We see the actions of the soldiers upon the Nazis and we wonder what kind of an impact this had on Teddy. We start questioning ourselves, why is he hallucinating? thinking of his wife? the fire? the missing inmate? The children who died in the concentration camp? Teddy gets headaches and the head doctor is giving him aspirin. Is he giving him aspirin? Or is he being "medicated?" Meanwhile the flashbacks keep happening. Next we see the prison warden who looks like a Gestapo commandant and eerily scary. Maybe because we also know this actor as the Captain from Monk and the Crazy Serial Killer from Silence of the Lambs.

Teddy goes to a staff meeting at the main house. It is revealed the missing patient is found. She explains her own insanity. But Teddy keeps having his illusions of his wife. He escapes and finds his way to the lighthouse. It becomes breathtaking and unbelievable at this point. Pant. Pant. Pant. Rush. Rush. Rush. What is happening.

Later, the two US Marshals decide to venture out on the island to find the missing patient on their own. They venture into the third building of the hospital containing the most delusional, dangerous patients. They find the murderer of Teddy's wife.

Then the mausoleum, the storm. The danger. What will happen next?

Attempting to go back to the lighthouse, Teddy's (Leo) partner falls from the cliff. Is he dead? Teddy ventures into some nearby caves. She is NOT the young patient in the hospital. Instread, she reveals she is actually a psychiatrist at the hospital and there is some evil plot by the government to discover some evil sort of brainwashing/lobotomy which would be instrumental in warfare, who cares about the impact on the public or how many people the secret government agencies will kill. These human experiments are all going on in the lighthouse. Is the government becoming just like Nazi Germany? Did Teddy take any of their meds (YES). Now he is worried he is getting brainwashed and medicated.

Back at the hospital, Dr. Cawley attempts to persuade Teddy to believe that he is delusional. He is a patient in the hospital. There is no government plot. Your wife was the one who was insane and murdered your children. You went insane after the murders. All you saw in the war did not help. Your partner Chuck is actually your psychiatrist. We were just trying to save you because you have become such a problem in the hospital that the Warden was going to lobotomize you. This is our last ditch efforts to save you from a lobotomy. Take more meds. Admit you are delusional. If you admit you are delusional, we will cure you. No. No. No. He can't believe it's true. Denial. Denial. Denial. Then he finally accepts this as truth.

Then, the last scene. He is sitting on the front stoop of the hospital steps talking to his partner/psychiatrist. He acts as if he is the US Marshall talking to his partner again, reverting back into his delusion. His partner/psychiatrist looks at Dr. Cawley and the warden, shakes his head. Dr. Cawley nods to the warden and to an intern who is carrying a towel and a giant needle. They escort Teddy away to his lobotomy.

Now here's what's weird. We don't know if he is imagining this, or if he is delusional, or if the warden/Dr. Cawley are conducting secret experiments. But Teddy's last words are, "is it better to be insane and righteous" (he is a US Marshall and the government is conducting all of these experiments and he is receiving a lobotomy) or insane and accepting of his crimes (he really did murder his wife who murdered his children and as long as he acknowledges this "truth" he doesn't receive a lobotomy). Teddy says this in such a way that he actually doesn't know the answer but in either case would prefer the former.

All in all, this movie left me with so many unanswered questions, that I now want to read the book. I did plan on laying by the pool doing a lot of reading this summer, so I think this is the first book I will read.


I Travel for JOOLS said...

I, too, really like DiCaprio. Did you see him in The Aviator? Fantastic acting. I have to admit I only read the first couple of paragraphs of your review because I want to see it and want to be surprised. But, I definitely will see it.

Dee said...

He is a great actor. I just love his movies.

After you see it, please re-read the review. Talk about the end of the movie. I want to get your take on it.

Dee said...

Again with your name calling! That is why I am not posting your comment.

First, I not only write about Immigration, I write about politics, life and my views. That is the point of my blog. Write from a Mexican American perspective -- which is just like everyone else's perspective (your 1st ah hah!); then discuss via comments.

Second, I'm not spoiling anything about the movie. There is an entire book written which precedes this movie. (e.g.: I read the book "The Shining" before seeing the movie "The Shining") People read, then compare. There are so many twists and turns in this movie that I have only shared the tip of the iceberg. Go see it. Then tell us what you think.

Proletariat Defender said...

So this is basically, this is "Beautiful Mind", but with Dicaprio.....

Dee said...

Sort of, but different.

First of all, I do not like Russell Crowe (Beautiful Mind). Anyone who would throw a telephone at the hotel clerk because his hotel phone line was cut off from his call to Australia, is an IDIOT! No apologies. I cannot stand the guy! Ever since I heard what type of guy he is, I cannot stand his over-acting movies!

Leo is a very good actor. If you liked Aviator, you will love this one.

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