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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shutter Island, Inception & Leo

I'm a big fan of Leo DiCaprio. I think he's a very talented guy. Last year, I was quite impressed with The Departed and Blood Diamond - in both movies, his performance greatly exceeded my expectations. But this year, I'm having exactly the opposite experience. I was quite disappointed in both Inception and Shutter Island. His performances were good, but the movies just didn't do it for me.

I've already written about Inception, which I thought was visually arresting, but emotionally unsatifying. I had a similiar reaction to Shutter Island. Actually, they were surprisingly similar - (SPOILER ALERT) both involved a troubled man who grapples with guilt over his wife, who is dead, and both turned out to take place inside the mind of that man. Both had terrific casts and were entertaining, but neither were as substantial or as satisfying as I had been lead to expect.

With Shutter Island, which is based on (and apparently very faithful to) a novel by Dennis Lehane (who wrote both Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, so you know this isn't going to be the feel-good movie of the year), (SPOILER ALERT) I started to guess that the action might be inside "Teddy's" mind, mostly because of Inception, but also because it seemed so ponderous or something. I thought it was a little unlikely that the facility would let him run around blowing things up and hurting people, even in a last ditch attempt to return him to reality. But I did like the very end, where he chooses to be lobotomized so that he can't feel his pain anymore, or risk being delusional - I thought that was deep! Overall, I thought the movie needed to be at least 20 or 25 minutes shorter - it felt like way too much of an investment once you found out it was "all in his mind." I actually would have enjoyed the movie a lot more if it turned out that the facility was doing secret mind experiments! It just felt too complicated once you found out it was a patient's delusion. It wasn't a bad movie, but just not a terrific one.



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