Shutter Island

Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), Shutter Island tells the story of 1950’s US Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) as he and his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) as they head to Shutter Island, a mental institute for the criminally insane, to find an escaped in-mate.

All is not what it seems on the foreboding Shutter Island: the staff, led by a particularly creepy (SIR!) Ben Kingsley, seem almost reluctant to help the case progress and are seem almost conspiratorial with the inmates to cloud the investigation.  On top of this, Daniels himself has another agenda for being involved involving his murdered wife.

All of which weaves a tangled web that really get the grey matter working, especially if, like me, you are inclined to enjoy the challenge of keeping pace with the detective in a detective story.

The movie is very much in a similar vein to Scorsese’s Cape Fear remake, complete with a seriously imposing score, sweeping camera moves and scene compositions that comfortably straddle Film Noir and thrillers from the 50’s stylistics.

Whilst the cast are adequate in what they do, the movie really belongs to Scorsese.  The look and sound of the movie is entrenched in Cape Fear territory, but the atmosphere of the movie is much more akin to Polanski’s paranoia classics Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby.  It is credit to Scorsese that this side to the movie is the most apparent and helps entwine the viewer in the tangled web that is Shutter Island.  There seems to me to be a real focus on Scorsese’s vision for the movie and the result is indelibly stamped as a Scorsese movie much more than it will ever be a DiCaprio movie.

 DiCaprio does cope well with his role and one thing that DiCaprio does so well that many of his contemporaries cannot is show genuine vulnerability.  Although, I personally find him to still look a little too young-looking and not grizzled enough to play characters such as Daniels, this reservation was lost once Shutter Island came into view.

The movie will have you revsiting themes and scenes long after the titles roll and it is certainly a movie to discuss afterwards rather than file away as 2 hours of escapism.  The movie also invites a second viewing, although I think a dvd/blu-ray with a director’s commentary would be my own viewing choice.

My Rating: 4/5


One response to “Shutter Island

  1. I agree on the Cape Fear side of things and that its slow unfolding – yet at the same time captivating – pace echoed film noir and 50s movies.

    It was a satisfying journey even though I guessed its direction and DiCaprio certainly held the whole piece together and you can certainly see why he is Scorsese’s new muse.

    We all know that Scorsese loves his film history and I feel that that was very much a love letter to the way films used to be made.

    It had been oft delayed in its release and you can sort of understand that the marketing folk might have had a problem in pitching it to people as it straddles several genres.

    But I’m glad to say that I found it an absorbing film experience and so must have the audience I viewed it with, they ranged from teenagers to the elderly, but this was one of the quietest screens I had been in for a long time.

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