The word was not good.
But you know, they said similar things about TITANIC, and
Leo was in that one too.
Unfortunately for the director, and the audience,
DiCaprio is Teddy Daniels, a
Early on, Teddy starts seeing flashes of the Holocaust, and
in short order, we are told that he helped to liberate
Unfortunately, these are the only moments that suggest Scorsese can do horror. Which is particularly bad when the rest of the movie is clearly supposed to be in the horror genre. Yes, he can generate cheap thrills from loud bangs like the best of ‘em, and sure, put in a quick shot of a scary balding woman with a throat scar making a “shhh” gesture, and you’ll briefly freak me out. But repeated hallucinations of Michelle Williams as Teddy’s dead wife who occasionally evaporates into ash or drowns in blood against super-technicolor, effects-jazzed backdrops? Not scary. Just ostentatious. And certainly nothing here that looks much like an actual hallucination someone might have.
Additionally, the geography of the island is confusing when
it ought to be frightening and confining. At one point, we see a lighthouse
that I could have sworn was on the top of the island, but the rest of the
movie, it’s really badly placed in a cove where it’s almost impossible to even
get to, and half its rotation would be blocked by the cliffs anyway! The island
of the title could, and should, have felt like the isolated village in THE
Instead, it feels like a bunch of expensive sets, and yes, I realize there are many references to other movies from Scorsese’s vast film knowledge (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and THE SNAKE PIT are among them), but those only enrich a film if the story is compelling enough to begin with. The damnedest thing is that I think this story could have been compelling, but nobody involved seemed to have much of an instinct to make it so. DiCaprio’s overacting gets worse and worse, and the Baaahstan accent helps him not a whit. Funnily enough, back when he was a teen idol and all guys were supposed to hate the guy, I liked him. I genuinely hoped he would be the next Anakin Skywalker. But this partnership with Scorsese just is not working for me. GANGS OF NEW YORK was fine, but he never made me care about Howard Hughes, and he was outperformed by Mark Wahlberg, of all people, in THE DEPARTED. Say hi to your mother for me.
(possible, vague spoiler hint below)
Oh, and for those of you who think you can guess where the movie’s going based on the trailer...you can. And even once the movie tips its hand, it insists on then holding yours as it painstakingly explains what you already know. At least there’s a small note of ambiguity inserted just before the last BOOM BOOM BOOM echoes on the score.