Directed by: Geoff Schaff
|Written by: Paul Corvino
This review should be subtitled "how low can you go?"
Yes, Ally Sheedy, I'm looking at you. I still can't believe Sheedy
didn't read this script, blink a few times and then make sure
it was put in the correct recycling bin. At least then something
good would have come of it.
Instead, she says "sure, bring it on!" and makes a
film of cheap shocks where the only thing truly shocking about
it is the knowledge that every single person involved with the
project can, and has, done better.
Production values do not make a film. Geoff Schaff could make
a black and white film that actually shows realistic lesbians
using a shaky handicam and bad lighting and I'd cheer for him.
As it is the pretty sheen the film has just serves to emphasise
the fact that looking nice is the only thing this movie has going
To all the detractors who claim that The
L Word is simply lesbian soap opera designed to titillate
straight men, I give you exhibit A, Shelter Island.
These characters have no motivation other than to help the male
audience get off on some juicy faux-lesbian content while waiting
for some mediocre thrills in the form of the characters gradually
attempting to knock each other off (and even that not very well).
Ally Sheedy plays Lou Delamere, a golf pro and motivational speaker,
who is viciously mugged while out jogging one day. She and her
long time lover, Alex (Patsy Kensit) decide to spend some time
recuperating from the shock at their cottage on Shelter Island.
It's isolated, private and should be the perfect setting for a
decent thriller. Of course, if I were ever mugged and beaten half
to death I would make sure I never went anywhere with anyone alone
until I was feeling better. But that's just me, and I've seen
way too many movies.
It's right about here that the director starts making his stars
show a bit of skin. After all, we need to set up that these women
are lesbians. Yep, they're gay. They like each other, quite a
bit. Or at least their easily-spotted body doubles do.
On a stormy night (groan!) a stranger appears at their doorway,
a soaked and pathetic Stephen Baldwin. For some reason his presence
seems to cause tension between the women. Oh, so they're not really
lesbians after all? All that setup wasted. Damn. I mean, if all
it takes is some semi-hunky-but-his-best-years-are-behind-him
drifter to turn lesbians into straight women again, why are there
any lesbians left in the world anyway? Surely we could have all
been straightened out by now with a bit of concerted effort? Just
lock us all up together, drop a man in from a high height and
watch us all tear each other to pieces to get to him. Yawn.
Of course, since it's already been foreshadowed by Lou's passionate
speech about never taking anything at face value, we know that
this stranger is not who he appears to be. And neither is the
sadistic sheriff who keeps poking his nose in. Or that other woman
who appears out of nowhere. Wait, isn't this supposed to be a
I digress, but it's hard to watch this movie without letting
your mind wander just a little bit. For example, I couldn't help
musing about how often this pathetic excuse for a script contrives
to get all the members of the cast naked. That might have been
vaguely interesting, but since all the sexual tension revolves
around how Stephen Baldwin's bare butt can magically turn lesbians
straight again, it gets tiresome pretty quickly.
The second and third acts contain plot twist after plot twist,
but up until the very end they're all fairly well telegraphed
in advance so it's easy to feel like you're always one step ahead.
That's about the only comforting feeling we have until the final
surprise is revealed. It truly is surprising because nothing in
this lame film could possibly have prepared us for what happens.
It's so ludicrous, there's no logical reason why things happen
the way they do. On top of all that, the film has more resurrections
than Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If it actually were a vampire film that might make some kind of
The high point for me was how pissed off Ally Sheedy looked at
the attempt to bump her off and hide her not-quite-dead body in
the marshland. She looked truly put out at the inconvenience.
I mean, after all she'd been through already, that was just rude.
Payback is a bitch.
You've seen it all before, those late night crappy thrillers
that never purport to be anything else. Most of them though are
pretty harmless, since they aren't also full of lesbian sterotypes
and crass situations designed purely to titillate the most purile
of male lesbian fantasies. That's where this film sinks to new
lows. Sorry guys, but the filmmakers are even selling you short
here. There's is nothing to take away from this experience but
a promise to yourself (whether you're male or female) that you'll
never sit through anything like it ever again. Shelter
Island gives B movies a bad name.
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