Film Review: SHUTTER ISLAND (2010)
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"Shutter Island" Movie Review. 6.5/10.
By Todd Murphy. ALL ABOUT MOVIES.NET. Share
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams
Although smart and atmospheric for a psychological thriller, “Shutter Island” disappoints in its drawn-out length and dialogue, a soundtrack that irritates and an ending that relegates the whole exercise to a cheap trick.
Famed director Martin Scorsese steps in to thematic territory that he does not usually cover and in many respects, he brings his intelligence to material that would have been handled more farcically by a lesser director. Exploring the psychology of main character US Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), the film becomes more than just his search for an escaped mental patient from the Shutter Island facility and becomes a delusory experience where the imaginary and the real world weave in between each other, creating some very atmospheric and tense moments, combined with some glorious and highly stylised visuals. The film explores the mind of a man haunted by his own inner demons, but what those demons are lead to some surprise twists and turns, and by the end, what we thought was happening was not what was going on at all. DiCaprio is excellent as Teddy Daniels, conveying the paranoia and toughness that allows you to sympathise with his character. He is supported by a strong cast including Mark Ruffalo as his partner Chuck, Ben Kinglsey as the seemingly nefarious Dr Cawley, Max von Sydow as the German doctor Dr Naehring who may have been a Nazi, and Michelle Williams as Teddy’s dead wife Dolores who he keeps seeing in his dreams and hallucinations. Visually, Scorsese has created a feast for the eyes, and with real world rules not applying in certain sequences, there are many opportunities he takes to create some highly stylised images that are quite memorable. “Shutter Island” is actually smarter and more demanding than the usual thriller, a quality that some may like, but the usual demographic may not.
The main issue with the film is the ending. As the whole film is based on Teddy’s state of mind, when it is finally revealed that he is actually a mental patient in the facility (sorry if I spoiled the ending for you) and that everything we watched is an elaborate role playing experiment put on by Dr Crawley to try and get Teddy to snap out of his delusion, it feels cheap and lessens an otherwise creepy, intelligent and atmospheric experience. In the end, Teddy never snaps out of his delusion so they lobotomise him. So what was the point of going through all of this? It gives the film a feeling that it was less than the sum of its parts. The choice of classical music is problematic; on the one hand it makes the film feel like a Kubrick film (which is not necessarily bad, but then it’s not a Kubrick film is it?), and on the other, it becomes so overbearing in parts as to be annoying without matching what is happening on screen. Another issue is Scorsese’s penchant for excessive dialogue, which in a psychological thriller, proves to denigrate the creepy atmosphere, particularly with the ending where every single detail is explained so those who are too dumb to understand what has been happening can catch up. “Shutter Island” is decent enough to watch on the big screen, but you may walk away disappointed.
Click here for the original review at All About Movies.net.
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Todd Murphy is a film analyst and staff writer/reviewer for the film and DVD review web site, ALL ABOUT MOVIES.NET.