Saturday, May 01, 2010

Shutter Island

Year: 2010
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Max von Sydow

You'd be forgiven if you thought that Shutter Island is a horror film after seeing its trailer. It certainly looks like something similar to The Sixth Sense, but what it really is, is a well crafted thriller from the legendary Martin Scorsese.

Based on the novel by Denis Lehane, Shutter Island is set in 1954, where U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) make their way to the titular location. They are investigating the disappearance of a woman from their maximum security asylum there. The woman was admitted there after she had drowned her own children.

As soon as they arrive there, Teddy and Chuck are greeted by very cold elements, from the feel of the oncoming storm to the uncooperative staff on duty. Dr Cawley (Ben Kingsley), chief psychiatrist in the asylum, tries his best to accommodate the Marshals and assist in their investigation, but Teddy constantly feels as if he is hiding something.

The truth is, Teddy has his own reasons for being there. He has a personal issue to confront in regards to the asylum on Shutter Island, and specifically asked for this assignment. But as he is constantly haunted by the death of his wife, how will he finish his investigation?

On the whole, I'm rather glad that Scorsese has made this film, because it is certainly a departure from his usual production of gangster and biography films. That being said, Scorsese is a pretty good storyteller. From the get go, we follow this story from DiCaprio's character's eyes, which means we learn everything the same time he does, which is exceptional indeed. By using this technique, Scorsese doesn't allow the audience to lose focus of the plot and get bored or confused halfway. He also employs some neat lighting effects and camera shifts throughout his film, which enhances the thrill factor. Some use of special effects for Teddy's nightmares were also well done.

Scorsese's favourite guy DiCaprio pulls off another winner of a role here. As Teddy Daniels, DiCaprio shows us his vulnerability and determination, as well as eventual confusion, frustration and emotional breakdown very effectively. This is DiCaprio at his best, his intensity more driven than ever. Ruffalo provides tremendous support as Chuck Aule, Teddy's smart and reliable partner. Kingsley and Max von Sydow provide an air of mystery as Dr Cawley and Dr Naehring respectively, the latter being the creepier doctor on the island.

As you'd expect in a thriller like this, there is a surprise twist in the third act. It is brilliant, however for audiences who have a great knack and appetite for twists, the execution of it by Scorsese here isn't all that grand. In some ways, you'll be wondering if all that was even possible in a real life situation. But I do believe in it somehow, as in all the loose ends were tied up sense.

If you have patience and have a great affection for mysteries, make some time for Shutter Island. (4/5)

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