Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shutter Island

How do I tell you about Shutter Island without telling you about Shutter Island? It's a phenomenal film, as un-Scorsese as any Martin Scorsese film in his canon. Except Kundun, of course. It is part crime drama, part Hitchcockian fantasy, with scenes a la the Dali dream piece in Spellbound.

I tell you what's been on my mind since I watched the movie a few days ago: Leonardo DiCaprio as the new Scorsese go to guy. No more is Robert DeNiro the onscreen image of Marty's films.

When DeNiro ruled the Scorsese universe, he was, as main character, a troubled individual, hard to peg as all-good, all-evil, or all-sane. Johnny Boy, Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta and Rupert Pupkin didn't see the dichotomy of their inner selves, not really. Sure, Jake pounded his fists and head against his cell wall, wondering why things turned out as they did, but it was all animal action.

Amsterdam Villon, Howard Hughes, Billy Costigan and Teddy Daniels, the DiCaprio roles, are quite aware of the split selves. If not totally aware, then at least they suspect thing are pretty fucked up. It gnaws at them, the shifting reality that they find themselves immersed in, whether by choice or not.

As he gets older, Martin Scorsese has morphed his anti-heroes into intellectual and thoughtful men who contemplate the deeply held angels and devils that live in us all. Now his characters contemplate their dual natures. Back in the day, they simply lashed out with feral ferocity. The only thing that Leo and Bobby share are an upper case "D" and a lower case vowel in their last names.

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