Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shutter Island

Shutter Island:
Do Not Trust Your Eyes, Or Your Mind

Shutter Island is one of those kind of films that I live for, its kind of a mix of modern storytelling and a twist on a classic film noir style delivery. Alot of times these days we sort of miss the point of what film noir stood for when we try to recreate it, but thankfully, this film, thanks to the brilliant Martin Scorsese, but really, is that a surprise to anyone? Marty Scorsese has been one of the most dependable and reliable film makers of all time, as well as one of the most beloved by the fans, which is whats important over dependability or reliability, after all they do it for the fans, not us critics, I think alot of people forget that. Though Marty does an incredible job, this film would be nothing at all with out the second coming of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is just incredible in this film. I know that I, like many, downed the hell out of Leo giving his start in the business, he was horrible on that barely watchable series Growing Pains, and he was just so horrible in that Titanic film that shouldn't have become as big of a hit as it was, but after taking a good many years off, and being careful when picking his roles, and making them mean something, instead of just being put out as that pretty face who people will go to see simply because he's a pretty face, Leo has redeemed himself in my eyes, as I am sure he has with many others as well, and for those that are still on the fence on if he really has come into his own, seriously, watch this film, you will be amazed at just how good it is.

But remember, pay very close attention from the very start, otherwise the twist in this will knock you for a loop. Here is the plot...

In 1954, U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), go to the Ashecliff Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. They are investigating the disappearance of Rachel Solando, a patient said to have vanished from a locked room. Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the head psychiatrist, explains that Rachel was institutionalized after drowning her three children. During the search for Rachel, Teddy sees a lighthouse but he is told it has already been searched. The Marshals question the staff and learn that Rachel's psychiatrist, Dr. Sheehan, left for vacation that morning. Teddy asks to see the hospital personnel files but Cawley refuses. That night, Teddy has strange dreams about his wife, Dolores Chanal (Michelle Williams), who had died in a fire two years before. During this dream, she tells Teddy that Rachel is still on the island, as is Andrew Laeddis, the man who started the fire in which she died. In the morning, they interview patients from Rachel's group therapy sessions, one of whom, after creating a diversion for Chuck, passes Teddy a warning to run. Later that day, Teddy explains to Chuck the real reason why he took the case: after being transferred to Ashecliff, Andrew Laeddis disappeared, so he took it upon himself to investigate the institution. During Teddy's investigation, he met George Noyce, a former patient who claimed that the institution was performing experiments on humans, so Teddy sets out to bring it down.

Its at this point that the movie its its stride, when it becomes not a pulp style detective story, but a hard edged thriller that takes you on a roller coaster all the way through every single conspiracy possibility as of 1954, and every single insane and inhuman medical treatment used on the mentally ill, all leading up to the very twist that will either throw you completely off the ride, or make you grip your hands to the safety bar tighter because you just can't look away, and if you are quick on the uptake, this is where you'll start to get the feeling of what the twist in this film is before you find out the truth about whats really going on, on shutter island, and like with most twists, it will either make you love it, or hate it, this ofcourse is up to your personal likes and dislikes, but I personally love a good twist, as long its not that bullshit kind of one like in Hancock or something, I hated the hell out of that, after you find out the real nature of Shutter Island, you are finally given the true background of the story, and the complete truth. And though you're left in the end to wonder just how this story will truly end, you're also left amazed at what has gone on. This truly is a must see for so many types of move fans.

As a whole, I loved this film, I loved Martin Scorsese's continuing of his trademark filming techniques as well as his attempts at different things, sure Shutter Island might never be seen as iconic as say "Taxi Driver" or "Raging Bull" or my personal favorite of his "Alice Doesn't Live Hear Anymore", but thats fine, Marty doesn't need to hit a home run to make an incredible film, and make no mistake, this is incredible. Leonardo DiCaprio brings in another solid performance as well, you don't really sit there and think "oh look its Leo DiCaprio talking like he's from Massachusettes and getting his Jack Webb on.." you really believe in his character and when he sees his visions through out the film, you really feel for him and feel as if you're having them as well, sure its not Leo from "Whats Eating Gilbert Grape" or "Romeo + Juliette" or even "Gangs Of New York", but that doesn't matter, he is so very solid in his method in this film and shines brighter then he has in afew years.

There are many other good performances as well, Ben Kingsley puts in an almost chilling performance as Dr. John Cawley, Shutter Island's head of psychology, but then to be fair, Ben Kingsley normally brings the A-Game when he does a role, and makes everyone else around him try and do just as well. The normally not exactly great in most things Mark Ruffalo makes a surprisingly good turn here as U.S. Marshal Chuck Aule, I've never really been a fan of Mark's work, mostly sloppily written chick flicks or romantic comedy, but he showed that he can be more then just the kind of dorky lead or secondary lead. And ofcourse, Heath Ledger's widow, Michelle Williams who plays Dolores Chanal Daniels in flashbacks and visions, but still turns in with a great performance. And a short but very memorable role by the great Jackie Earl Haley fresh off playing Rorschach in Watchmen and before playing Freddy Krugar in the new Nightmare On Elm Street. This whole cast is just amazingly good, and you all really should watch it if you haven't, and remember, look at everything, and constnatly pay attention, there are clues to the truth through out the whole film, and it will all make complete sense when its all said and done.

Oh and for those that wish, here is the trailer...




  1. I have decided over the last 8 years or so that there is no better writer director team than Scorsese and DiCaprio. Even Depp/Burton aren't this good but more widely loved. After Gangs of New York and then The Departed, I have complete faith in these guys, hell even The Aviator was great. I thought the twist was too obvious in this one though. It was easy to figure out from the beginning when his partner couldn't get his gun out of his holster. But, everything else was flawless.

  2. Thats what i ment by if you pay attention you pick up on it right away, I picked up on it when the guards looked scared of him from the start. But yeah they're impressing me as a duo and thats big because there are so many out there people could argue about.