Shutter Island – Movie Review
I have a lot of respect for Martin Scorsese. Ever since I was made to sit and watch Goodfellas, then Casino, then The Departed and so on and so forth, I have learnt to expect a very high standard from this man and in regards to Shutter Island I have to say the standard is still as high as ever. I have never seen Taxi Driver, (I know! I know! The shame!) so I was unaware of Scorsese’s fascination with insanity. It was a surprise, I can tell you. A horrible, horrible surprise.
Leonardo DiCaprio is U.S Marshal Teddy Daniels. He and his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) have been sent to Shutter Island to investigate the escape of a female murderer (Emily Mortimer). The small island is home to an inescapable fortress/hospital for the criminally insane and when the marshals get there they realize there is something not right about this place and decide to dig deeper at their own peril.
I really liked the music in this film. It was mostly cellos I think, and played in a dark repetition of only a few notes. The first time you notice them is when Teddy is making his journey to the gates of the asylum. You really get the impression of stifled terror as the music crescendos. The cellos re-occur throughout the film, reminding me a little of Jaws and bringing the same fear.
The most disturbing thing you see first is a lady in the garden. If you go and see this movie you will know who I’m talking about immediately. I have never really been one to judge a person by their looks. Deformities and the like don’t make me squeamish because it’s just people. People aren’t scary to me most of the time. But I have never been so creeped out by a person in my entire life. The word I would use to describe this woman is “haunting”.
The dream sequences are another thing to pay attention to. I think they are almost as real-feeling as the dreams in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. They are strange and quite dark but, like real dreams, they have a basis in reality, even if it’s only a very tenuous link. They hold all the clues to what is going on. Of course most people, like me, won’t be able to see it until it’s too late. And I never expected Bruce Willis to be dead in The Sixth Sense either. I am such a sucker.
This movie plays tricks on your mind and in very subtle ways. There is one scene where a woman is given a glass of water to drink. I swear there was no glass in her hand when she is drinking it but then in the next shot she is putting the glass down. I have no idea whether this actually happened or whether I was put so off balance by this film that I became paranoid. (Insert facial tick here). And it’s easy to be put off balance. The little “ticks” of the camera are disquieting to say the least. You spend most of the movie thinking one thing and the moment you are convinced otherwise, you are made to believe it was the first thing all along. I realize I am being a bit cryptic but you’ll thank me later.
This film is elaborate in its construction and is just craving an in-depth analysis. It made me think of King Lear with the theme of the storm as a metaphor for rising insanity. It’s great. And creepy. I was very embarrassed by the way I kept jumping at tense moments in the film. I have seen a lot of psychological thrillers in my life and it was clear there was a twist coming. But I like the fact that I could think back on every moment in the film and see why someone reacted the way they did. At the time people seemed suspicious but after the reveal, I love how it all made sense.
DiCaprio was excellent as always and I thought Ruffalo’s role in this movie was intensely interesting. Scorsese did not disappoint and I urge everyone, especially lovers of thrill and suspense, to see Shutter Island. And if you like it as much as I did, it might be worth reading the book it was based on by Denis Lehane.
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Is Martin back on track with Shutter Island or is this more Gangs of New York? Was Gangs of New York a return to form? Did Marty ever lose form? Feedback and let us know?
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