“Shutter Island” is more than meets the eye. Besieged by a pushing in release date from last October to this March, this new Scorsese/DiCaprio pairing is more abstract and less straightforward than their earlier collaborations. It has tinges of indulgences from “Age Of Innocence” in addition to its adaptation roots but unlike the other films made of Dennis Lehane’s books like “Mystic River” or “Gone Baby Gone”, this incarnation is more dreamlike. DiCaprio is effective and more in tune along the lines of raw emotionality than he was even in “Revolutionary Road”. However, there is a lack of connection between him and co-star Michelle Williams despite Leo’s best intentions. What most stands out across the board is the use of classical music instead of a normal score. It definitely gives the picture a different feel. The music supervision was done by Robbie Robertson who also wrote the music for “Ladder 49”. What might be coincidental is that in addition to a foghorn sounding overture in the beginning, the music seems to have been pulled from “The Shining” which gives the initial 20 minutes a bit of a Stanley Kubrick feel. However, as the film moves along, there is almost an arch of overplaying that takes one slightly out of the picture. The reveal at the end is, of course, an interesting one and motivates the entire picture making it indelicatable upon repeat viewings.
In the featurette “Into The Lighthouse” author Lehane talks about the book being a response to post-9/11 thoughts which in certain ways had parrallels to McCarthyism. Another interesting inclusion is consultant James Gilligan who talks about his experience at a mental hospital and the differences between old and new psychology methods. These long featurettes actually get in depth on the aspect of why lobotomy was adopted and the perceptions which fuel certain backgrounds in the picture. The other featurette “Behind The Shutters” which also runs about 20 minutes has lengthy background info including Ruffalo, DiCaprio and Scorsese and takes into account the actual reveal (these behind-the-scenes elements have disclaimers about spoilers as well). They knew, perhaps in some ways similar to “Fight Club”) that they would need to usher the audience in many ways through the narrative to understand its complexity, “Shutter Island” is, in many ways, successful but in others a hard sell which is an interesting conundrum though it is interesting seeing Scorsese work this angle. Another very interesting tidbit is that Elias Koteas, who plays a version of the character Latteus, has such a DeNiro type effectation that you almost mistake him for the legend as a young actor. I thought almost initially they did motion capture on DeNiro but that would make no sense. “Shutter Island”, in all ways, is an interesting exercise. Out of 5, I give the BD a 3.
“Revolutionary Road” comes off in turn on home video with delicate turnings in latter viewings. When I initially saw the film, it had a power but was not overwhelming. On subsequent viewings on Blu Ray, the texture of both Winslet and, to a greater degree, Leonardo DiCaprio becomes clearer. The aspect of also understanding Robert Yates, the writer, whose life is examined in a documentary on the disc really gives a sense of place and perspective to what is going on, specifically in terms of the psychology of the piece. While Director Sam Mendes does point out, especially in the commentary on the deleted scenes, about where Yates reverted to certain cliches, the effectiveness of “Revolutionary” lies in the fact that certain aspects were changed or tweaked to keep it believable which is a change from the norm.
The odd aspect, which I am not sure appears in the book, is that Frank, Leo’s character, strays but then you see that April, Kate’s character, does too. Leo has some great moments in this film as does Kate which again becomes even more specific on subsequent viewings. When April tells Frank that she doesn’t love him anymore and goes into a rage yelling “Fuck You”, Leo is able to reveal a vulnerability which lets you see that kid from when he was 17 peaking out almost 20 years later. You can see still it. This vulnerability is also seen in a deleted scene which has Frank coming back to the scene of the crime after his wife’s accident. Now while the end of the scene speaks to the controversy of whether or not April killed herself (Mendes wants it to play as if she didn’t), there is a point where Frank hides behind a door so his friend Shep doesn’t find him. There is a look that Leo gives that points to the vulnerability again. It is something that can’t be learned but rather comes from experience and talent.
The commentary by Mendes is very intrinsic of how they discussed playing certain moments. He also highlights the production design, the blocking of how certain things work and discussion on the rehearsal on this picture which makes sense since he is married to Winslet. It was just a matter of Leo’s schedule which, in the “Lives Of Quiet Desperation” making-of docu on the movie, Winslet actually talks about. She had been the one championing the film for years. What is ironic is that she won the Oscar for “The Reader” and not this which is the reverse of what I thought would happen. She actually had mentioned the script to her husband because of a coincidence of working with BBC Films. Mendes eventually came around. But Leo, from what Winslet says in the docu, is a person who doesn’t respond if you bug him constantly. He will pull away so she had to mention it off the cuff once in a while. She knows him very well. She makes a very nice point which is accentuated with a photo of the three of them. She says it was wonderful making a movie with her husband and her best friend. There will always be that connection between them.
The other deleted scenes show some different elements including the original beginning of the movie and a couple flashbacks which might have shed some light but took away from the real drama at hand. The one scene with Kathy Bates breaking down when she hears April and Frank are moving to Paris is quite nice when she sits down on the bed and simply looks at her feet. It is also much more apparent how much weight she has lost since “About Schmidt”. Hopefully we’ll see her in more roles. Again, the doc on Yates and his sad life in terms of the importance of his writing versus how he related to his family really gives a context. He always told his friends to speak of him truthfully and they all do in this. It really paints a picture as to the metaphors and ideas the book and thereby the film relates. The transfer looks good but again this was recently shot which makes it look good anyway. Specifically the night elements and how they play come off very subtle but the coldness of the house even in warmth show DP Roger Deakins’ skill. The theatrical trailer shows the stillness the movie tries to convey which Mendes says in the commentary was a conscious decision. Because of how all the elements on the Blu Ray highlight and explain what the movie and give you a much more complete understanding of it, out of 5, I give the Blu Ray of “Revolutionary Road” a 3 1/2.