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Shutter Island has taken the top spot at the box office for two weeks in a row now, racking up over $110 million. The film has even topped all other opening weekend records for Mr. Martin Marcantonio Luciano Scorsese. This success is a little surprising, because mass audiences can stay away from stories that aren’t “happily ever after” stories. After the obligatory post-screening “what did you think of the movie” talks, I knew I loved it, but predicted most audiences would be creeped out by it, killing the word of mouth buzz. To be fair, I guess people know up front that a story set in an insane asylum will be grim. The poster for Shutter Island gives fair warning too. When else have you seen Leo DiCaprio reduced to a grimacing face clouded in shadows?

My initial thoughts on the movie came from doing zero research on the story before seeing it. Some directors I trust completely and avoid reading about the plot and even avoid watching their trailer beforehand. Going in completely cold leaves you with no expectations or notions on how the film plays out. Driving to the screening, I was kidding with my friend, asking if a bunch of Italian Goodfellas are running around Scorsese Island. “Does Joe Pesci work in a Casino on Shutter Island?” If you’ve seen Shutter Island, then you realize I had no idea what the movie was about. If you still haven’t seen it yet, I recommend the less you know the better. The basics of the story: Leo DiCaprio is Federal Marshall Teddy Daniels, searching the island on a quest to find patient Andrew Laeddis. Lots of questions are raised along the way. Teddy may or may not find Laeddis, who may or may not have the answers he is looking for.

Audiences are used to Scorsese mining the depths of insanity to create characters often uncomfortable to watch. Scorsese and Robert De Niro created a memorable trio of mentally unbalanced characters: the delusional star-stalker in King of Comedy, the psychotic convict in Cape Fear, and the disturbed Taxi Driver that asks himself in the mirror “You talkin to me?” Throw in a dozen gangster sociopaths and you’ve got a body of work, that in a way, showcases the criminally insane running free in society. Shutter Island ups the ante, it features people too crazy to go unnoticed in society. The mood of the characters is also different. Joe Pesci’s Goodfellas character was a funny guy. It would offend him, but the truth is the little guy really was there just to amuse us. The Shutter Island residents aren’t funny, they just plain creep us out.

Shutter is a great story and executed perfectly. I want to see it a second time, and I bet repeat viewers are helping keep Shutter Island on top of the charts. What’s next Mr. Scorsese? Wait, on second thought, don’t tell me, just surprise me. I’m gonna go see it whatever it is.

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1 comment

  1. Russ

    What about Jake Lamotta?
    I will c it again after the madness