A U.S. Marshal is sent to an asylum for the criminally insane
to investigate the disappearance of an escaped patient.
Shutter Island (2010)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley,
Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, John Carroll Lynch,
Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, Patricia Clarkson
Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane
I've always had problems with Shutter Island. I've seen it twice now, and it just doesn't do it for me. The performances are fantastic, the tone is superb, but I don't think the story works. I think the story that they are telling for most of the movie is far more interesting than the twist at the end that turns this into a much sadder movie. It's been ten years, so I'm gonna spoil the movie. Personally, I think the concept of a secret, government funded project to create mindless super soldiers using Nazi research is far more intriguing and original than the twist, where everything you've seen thus far is fabricated for the sake of helping Leo get better. It's like a nuclear countdown that ends with a confetti blast and a "fuck you" sign.
DiCaprio plays U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who is sent to the mysterious Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient. His partner, Chuck (Ruffalo), is along for the ride. They meet the head doctor, Dr. Cawley (Kingsley), who is very coy, dismissive, and incredibly suspicious. Slowly, Daniels realizes he's trapped in the middle of a massive conspiracy involving wrongfully convicted maniacs, unnecessary surgery, and a lot of patsys. Or, maybe it's all in his head. The journey to get there is overly long, putting the film's pace into question, and like I said, the twist completely ruins the film for me. Now, the film is different, and every interesting, frightening, and memorable road we've been led down was a red herring.
Maybe it's a case of personal preference, but I just can't get into Shutter Island. The film gains points for a host of brilliant performances, great set design, and a tense score that sets an ethereal, supernatural tone. It really is the last act that rips up everything I'd come to like, and getting there is quite a bore. Sorry, Scorsese purists, but this one's not among his best in my book.
Shutter Island is one of Martin Scorsese's best films. While not the usual gangster film he has become known for, this is a welcome change of pace for the acclaimed director. With an outstanding performance from DiCaprio and a thick atmosphere, Shutter Island sees Scorsese add a little bit of horror to his usual crime fair. This, once again, shows Martin Scorsese is a true master of his craft.
While not an overtly scary movie, Shutter Island sees a much more darker tone than the director is generally known for. With that comes a thick atmosphere, one that seems to get thicker as the film progresses. All of this works in the film's favor, as the characters are soon trapped on the island and proceedings seem to be taking a more sinister turn. Up for the challenge of all this is Leonardo DiCaprio. He plays U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who is trying to figure out what exactly is happening. He puts in another great performance, especially when the big twist is revealed at the end. Not to be outshined, both Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley turn in great performances as well. All three are a joy to watch as the mystery of the island begins to unravel. As mentioned earlier, there is a great twist at the end. One which adds a sense of tragedy and despair to the film and its main character.
For something that acts as a more horror/mystery, Scorsese really knocked it out of the park. Oozing with atmosphere and fantastic performances, Shutter Island is one of my favorite films of his. I hope this isn't the last time Scorsese and company decide to tip their toes in this genre, as they clearly know what they're doing.