Saturday, August 22, 2009

More on "Shutter Island"

By time I learned yesterday about the decision by Paramount to push back the opening of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island until February, previous commitments prevented me from doing anything but accepting the studio's own explanations for the move. I have tried to poke around this a little more today (somewhat more difficult to do on a Saturday when many offices are closed), but the story I'm hearing is that the studio execs liked the film but on a Cape Fear level, not on a The Departed, GoodFellas, Raging Bull or even The Aviator level.

On this, I'm leaning toward trusting their judgment. They made the same decision this time last year with The Soloist which, it turned out, was not only not awards-worthy, but died quickly upon its release earlier this year.

My personal expectations for Shutter Island diminished the more I was exposed to the film. Its first trailers appear to have focused solely on the setup: An accused murderess (played by Michelle Williams) sentenced to a remote mental institution that is the only building on a remote island escapes and can't be found, although, we're told, it's impossible to escape from the island. A pair of policemen, one played by Leonardo DiCaprio (playing in, if my count is correct, his fourth Scorsese film), is dispatched from the mainland to the island to solve the mystery. These original previews didn't even feature Ben Kingsley who apparently plays the warden of the institution.

The last series of trailers, however, have focused more on what happens to DiCaprio when he arrives on the island and I was overcome by how much those scenes reminded me of Alan Parker's 1987 film Angel Heart, which I liked more than a lot of folks. In that film, Mickey Rourke plays a detective hired by Robert DeNiro to find a missing man, but the films turns into an allegory: The DeNiro character is actually the devil and the film is about the Rourke character's descent into hell.

If my perceptions are correct, then Paramount is doing the right thing.

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