Shutter Island Movie Review

Essentially a B-movie thriller with an A-list cast and production values (and an epic's running time), this film is almost ludicrously well-made. Scorsese is clearly having fun rattling our nerves, and he does it very well.

In 1954 Boston, Ted (DiCaprio) is a US Marshal heading with his new partner Chuck (Ruffalo) to the Shutter Island hospital for the criminally insane. A patient (Mortimer) has mysteriously disappeared, and the head doctor (Kingsley) is acting suspicious. So is everyone else for that matter. As Ted delves deeper into the mystery, which hints at a big conspiracy, he struggles with the implications these events have for his own life, including the death of his wife (Williams) and his experiences liberating Dachau at the end of the war.

We can imagine the words "ominous chord" written into the script at key moments. Although of course we don't have to imagine it with the foghorn-like score. Add to this first-rate technical credits including editor Thelma Schoonmaker, cinematographer Robert Richardson, production designer Dante Ferretti and costume designer Sandy Powell, and Scorsese has made one of the best-looking movies of the year. Every moment is charged with suggestion and, frankly, insanity. Guilty pleasure movies don't get much more polished than this.

That said, the disparity between the high-calibre production and the rather simplistic story is somewhat jarring. Sure, the plot twists and turns and twists again, but in the end there's not much to it, and we understand this from the beginning. So we never invest much into the film; we merely wallow in the heightened reality and cinematic pyrotechnics that keep us visually entertained even if our hearts and minds are never caught up in the increasingly operatic nuttiness.

And the cast is having fun as well, diving into their characters and ladling on the innuendo with arched eyebrows and shifty glances. As DiCaprio's mind starts slipping, we sometimes forget that we're watching a raging potboiler, although not for long. Scorsese packs the film with so many thrilling details, surreal asides and masterful set-ups, many of which echo classic thrillers from the 1940s, that we can't help but enjoy the ride


Comments

Shutter Island Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2010

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