Shelter Island (2003) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language
Running Time: 82 min.
Cast: Ally Sheedy, Stephen Baldwin, Patsy Kensit, Chris Penn, Mimi Langeland
Director: Geoff Schaff
Screenplay: Paul Corvino
Review published April 8, 2004
Shelter Island is an incredibly weak thriller from cinematographer-turned-director Geoff Schaff and producer-turned-screenwriter Paul Corvino that seeks to do little but mildly titillate for its short duration. Don't expect any logic at all, as this has some of the most gaping plot holes you're likely to ever see in a thriller, and character motivations that are performed without rhyme or reason. This is merely an excuse to flash a lot of skin and showcase a great deal of (mostly lesbian) sexual tension amongst the performers, and while it isn't a good movie by any stretch, as late-night cable type erotic thrillers go, this is par for the course.
Sheedy (The Breakfast Club, Short Circuit) plays a pro-golfer and motivational speaker, Lou Delamere, who goes around both circuits, while her longtime lesbian lover, Alex (Kensit, Lethal Weapon 2), takes care of the daily chores. One day while out for a jog, Lou is viciously mugged and hospitalized, and to recuperate, they decide to get away for the weekend at their little cottage out on Shelter Island, where it is hard to relax because the nosy local sheriff (Penn, Reservoir Dogs) keeps butting into their affairs. In comes a major storm, and along with it, a drifting lowlife named Lenny (Baldwin, The Usual Suspects), who ratchets up the tension between the two women.
While I have the impulse to give Shelter Island the lowest rating possible, I do suspect that those who are looking for nothing more than a dumb skin flick will find it just diverting enough to sit through without complaint. It's actually quite funny how often Schaff and Corvino concoct ways to get the performers naked, whether it's an erotic massage, a nude workout, or a hot sauna. Unfortunately, it's pretty obvious that body doubles were used for most of the nudity, so even those intending to view this for glimpses of Sheedy and Kensit baring all will come away, um... empty-handed. All of the cast bare ass except (quite thankfully) Penn, but it's clear that all of these aging stars have let themselves go somewhat, unless you consider Mimi Langeland's plastic parts are well-toned. Although most of the action takes place on Shelter Island, it probably would have been more appropriate to change the location to nearby Sag Harbor.
As a thriller, it flat out stinks. Lots of twists and turns abound, foreshadowed by Sheedy's incredible feeble motivational speech on false appearances, and for most of the way, it is pretty easy to stay a step ahead of the script. However, there are many more twists than you'd figure or believe, and in an incredibly awful finale, the creative forces decide to ditch all pretense of explanation in order to assure that the audience is completely fooled, because no logical rationale could possibly make any sense out of the story as presented.
Shelter Island is nothing but a lesbian erotic thriller written by men for men. There's nothing here for ladies to enjoy (certainly not Baldwin's flabby body), and even lesbians will probably find the stereotypes and typical male perspectives to be too crass to laugh at. Fake boobs, Botox, and body doubles are not exactly worth the price of admission here, folks, so if you've seen one of these kinds of movies before, you've seen all Shelter Island has to offer already.
©2004 Vince Leo