Review No. 470
Try and “Shut” it out of your memory.
DIRECTED BY MARTIN SCORSESE. SCREENPLAY BY LAETA KALOGRIDIS. BASED ON “SHUTTER ISLAND” BY DENNIS LEHANE. STARRING LEONARDO DICAPRIO (EDWARD “TEDDY” DANIELS), MARK RUFFALO (CHUCK AULE), BEN KINGSLEY (DR. JOHN CAWLEY), MICHELLE WILLIAMS (DOLORES CHANAL), PATRICIA CLARKSON (DR. RACHEL SOLANDO), AND MAX VON SYDOW (DR. JEREMIAH NAEHRING). ALSO STARRING CHRISTOPHER DENHAM, ELIAS KOTEAS, EMILY MORTIMER, JACKIE EARLE HALEY, JILL LARSON, JOHN CARROLL LYNCH, KEN CHEESEMAN, MATTHEW COWLES, ROBIN BARTLETT, RUBY JERINS, AND TED LEVINE. DISTRIBUTED BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES ON FEBRUARY 19, 2010. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH AND GERMAN BY THE UNITED STATES. RUNS 2 HOURS, 18 MINUTES. RATED R BY THE MPAA, FOR DISTURBING VIOLENT CONTENT, LANGUAGE AND SOME NUDITY.
SHUTTER ISLAND WAS WATCHED ON APRIL 28, 2013.
“Which would be worse? To live as a monster, or die as a good man?” –Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio)
I’ll admit that Martin Scorsese’s rendition of Shutter Island fails when compared to Dennis Lehane’s source novel. It’s nothing mind-blowing or remotely unforgettable. Seen as its own work, this is a successfully chilling piece. I’ve always respected Scorsese as one of few directors who can successfully develop a character, regardless of our expectations. He could direct a biopic about Charles Manson and he’d find a way to make us side with the quote-unquote “hero.” Shutter Island gives its hero a unique, somewhat bizarre turn. Let’s just say once we’re submerged in his head, the experience grows much more unsettling.
Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a U.S. Marshal who has traveled to Ashecliffe, a hospital for the criminally insane, on an island at Boston Harbor. The protocol is a part of the investigation for Rachel Solando, a crazed woman who has drowned all three of her children. What unfolds from here on is a psychological tale that studies one paramount question: “Where is the line between sanity and insanity?” It seems obvious to us, but Teddy, in his journey through the asylum, begins to discover that every mental patient thinks of him- or herself as perfectly sane.
Shutter Island is a well acted thriller, set a step ahead by an intriguing protagonist. We know he’s delusional, but we don’t know when he’s experiencing reality, when his hallucinations represent reality, or when he’s just purely delusional. And his delusion could be either because a) he’s insane or b) he’s recently lost his wife and is now experiencing post-traumatic stress. DiCaprio understates his performance incredibly in order to attain the several mysteries that surround his situation.
The picture is incredibly subtle, so much that when we get to the twist ending, it’s perfection: shocking, yet ingeniously sensible. The term “twist ending” has been beaten to a negative connotation; it’s films like this that demand a new word for how sublimely they end. Again, Shutter Island isn’t perfect; a fan of the book (such as yours truly) would expect something with more consistent pacing, as well as the pulp inspiration that was present Lehane’s novel. But if this isn’t a satisfying thriller–dare I say one that echoes the style of Hitchcock himself, with superior results–I’m not sure exactly what it is.