I watched Shutter Island this morning. And read the book it is based on this afternoon. I liked both. That’s a first.
Ordinarily, it turns out that the one you come across first reeks of awesomeness, and the other always pales in comparison. I liked Sixth Sense – A Novelization better than the movie because I read the book first. And I liked the Bond movies better than the books. But in this case, no complaints about either. None, whatsoever.
The year 1954, an island connected to civilization only by a ferry, the island full of loons, no cellphones or other links, a storm and hurricane, and an escaped insane baby-drowning woman loose on the island. And a US Marshal with his own inner demons. Add to that disappearing inmates, the other inmates not telling the whole truth, suspicions of Nazi-esque experimentation on the human mind, a la The Men Who Stare At Goats. No sideshows, no distractions.What more do you need to create a taut, tense plotline that keeps you on the edge of your seat for each of the two hours and eighteen minutes of its running time?
I particularly liked the cinematography. Since this wasn’t an all-out extravaganza, there are no desktop wallpaper shots, but it is pure whiteBalance magic. The bright, warm shots of Teddy Daniels’s happier times also take on a surreal tone, consistent with the rest of the movie. There are no gory images out to shock… none of that sort of B-movie madness.
The book is short – only 131 pages. Perfect movie material. Martin Scorsese has stayed faithful to the book, with only a few omissions here and there, and just a couple of additions. No radical plot changes, which someone making Harry Potter movies would really have to rely on to get the movie within bladder-tolerant duration.
The best part is the dialogues just out of the book. So if you liked the book, it would be simply great to see all those lines you read and read over again come to life on screen.
Which also means, the book is taut, no loose ends. Not a single word wasted. No elaborate unnecessary descriptions. Nothing at all that distracts you from the plot.
Which means at no point during the movie you feel like you’re watching a movie. You don’t move, you are so riveted that you even forget to sip your lemonade or nibble at your popcorn.
And the performances. Ben Kingsley is awesome. DiCaprio… I saw him play a similar role in The Aviator last night, so yeah, well, nothing new there. Mark Ruffalo gives a measured supporting performance which makes you want to watch him in other movies as well.
The plotline…. there’s no point of going into that here… as is expected, the climax turns the whole thing on its head and I’m not inclined to give out spoilers. The concept might have been done before, but Scorsese brings a realistic feel to it.
So… should you read the book? Oh yes, you certainly should. Should you watch the movie? Please do, and join me in raving about it.
PS: I ranted about Google Buzz, and now I don’t much mind it. For all you know, I might be cursing the movie tomorrow. Don’t really go by my just-out-of-the-hall reviews. I once said *shudder* Rang De Basanti was awesome.