Tag Archives: Ahhh!

I Fear What I May Do One Fateful Valentine’s Day

Not really. I mean, aside from giving myself digestive problems from eating too many jelly beans in one sitting and washing it down with a bottle of Riesling, which has happened before, so I can’t even really fear that anymore. But the revelation with Shutter Island is that it gives us a remarkable fear within the framework of a paranoia film. It’s probably the greatest and most intense fear in existence, because its explanations are so abstract. It is the fear that we will never really own our minds. If the purpose of art is to seek representations of truth, and the good artist achieves some amount of clarity in that quest, then how do all the rest of us manage to stumble along in our silly jobs with their useful applications, churning and creating and advancing modern society in an attempt to serve some greater duty to the universe? How do we do that knowing that, come on, we don’t have any clue about what’s happening out there.

If there’s a reason to get this existential here now, other than that I just think about this sort of stuff all the time, it’s that the paranoia in Shutter Island touches on what seems to be a current societal concern with the big questions of art and life, that have indeed been around forever. A Jonathan Ames quote from a recent episode of his HBO series, Bored to Death, leaps out at you like a line from T.S Eliot – “Our lives don’t change, we just become more content with our core of misery, which is a form of happiness” – delivered by a wonderfully surly psycho-therapist.

Ok, yes. Let’s talk about this and worry about this now. It’s been enough time. A psycho-correctional facility on a damp, north-eastern island is a scary enough setting for it.

Shutter Island is adapted from a novel by Dennis Lehane,who also wrote the novel that inspired Clint Eastwood’s somber Mystic River. Scorsese suggests in Shutter Island that there are indeed dark corners of human nature that are so traumatic to behold that they tear down humanity’s own grip on the earth. Without going too much into plot, which is woven masterfully with suspense and what are quite beautiful macabre scenes that caused one audience member to remark out loud, “This is getting trippy,” Scorsese has produced a fresh, imaginative work. If one expects staleness from this director, he proves them wrong with a defiant flourish, and he continues to make engaging films with not a scene wasted.

Heather Struck