Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Laeta Kalogridis
Based On The Novel By: Dennis LeHane
Staring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Ted Levine, and Jackie Earle Hayley
Don’t you get it? You’re a rat in a maze. -George Noyce
Shutter Island was a love letter to old school suspense/thriller, Hitchcock twists, and Kubrick style pacing, with a haunting score that chill your bones hours after you’ve left the theatre. Scorsese takes us on a disturbing journey across an island with too many secrets and too little answers. There was nothing typically Scorsese about this movie, aside from the attention to every possible detail of fleshing out characters, story, and the audience perspective, which in this case was riveting.
Shutter Island is a mental asylum for the criminally insane. Detective Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule have been recruited to investigate an escaped female prisoner. While the guards and everyone seems to be highly concerned about the escapee, Daniels begins to expect something else is going on as well. Haunted by memories of his dead wife and horrible events that he took part in during the war, he is hardly stable, but determined to discover what the head psychologist Dr. Cawley is hiding. What he begins to uncover is haunting and unnerving.
If you can say anything about Leonardo DiCaprio it’s that the man can act. He is so incredibly dynamic and can tap into emotions and convey them in such a genuine way, I always feel like I’m a voyeur watching his characters. His ability to be both vulnerable and strong is unmatched and his chemistry with Scorsese’s work is something that I’m just not getting tired of watching. As the obsessed and dedicated Marshall Teddy Daniels the steely exterior of his character is a terrific facade for a man who is bubbling with raw emotion and confusion underneath. Ben Kingsley and Mark Ruffalo were effervescent in their supporting roles and gave Leo’s performance the support it needed. Midway through Jackie Earle Hayley gave me a nice surprise in a small, but poignant role. The beautiful Michelle Williams and Emily Mortimer were also implemented in small but very important ways. It was a strong cast that gave DiCaprio the legs he needed to pull off one of the most intense performances of his career.
What is so enrapturing about Shutter Island is that Scorsese pretty much plays a game of Texas no limit hold ‘em. You get to see a lot of the cards, and you are even given some for yourself, but there are unknowns across the table. Putting the pieces together and guessing what the other players have is what you try to do, but sometimes you forget that there are also other cards buried in the deck, and Shutter Island banks on those buried cards at the end. You know a twist is coming, you know you don’t quite understand what’s happening, and even when you get wowed, you aren’t sure that’s end game. It was a spectacular play of mystery and kept you engaged to the final nail biting moments. In the midst of the mystery is a true mix of terrifyingly awful emotional moments that DiCaprio sells as truly genuine.
As good as it was, it was not a perfect film. I’m not sure what happened with the delays on it’s release, as the final project was clearly an enormous triumph. There were moments where I could feel the films length, and though you were supposed to be confused or feel DiCaprio’s claustrophobia it felt too overwhelming at times, and I did find myself squirming in my seat wondering if I was actually getting any closer to an answer or if I was just being manipulated for the sake of being manipulated. As it turned out I wasn’t being manipulated. It was a carefully constructed puzzle that occasionally got a little too wrapped up in it’s own enigma.
The score literally violates your senses it’s so strong. Immediately I thought back to watching “The Omen” the first time and how powerful a role the music played in capturing and creating the films mood. It was a similar experience with Shutter Island. The cinematography felt very oppressive at times, capturing the sense of being a prisoner on the island. This worked very well most of them, but also began to translate too literally to me in the audience.
I might be a bit of a Scorsese fan-girl and by no means was Shutter Island a perfect film, but it certainly was damn good movie that really felt like an updated homage to the kind of thrillers I have grown up adoring. I could easily see this one making it into my Top Ten films of 2010 already. If it doesn’t ten more movies throughout the year are going to blow me away. Is Shutter Island a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen? Not necessarily, but it was the only thing on the marquee that looked at all worth my ten dollars, aside from a repeat viewing of Avatar. What’s going to be exceedingly fun is going back and re-watching it. I really loved this movie and especially enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. Once again a great team between himself and the brilliant Martin Scorsese.
Did you like Shutter Island? Rate it.