After being bombarded by the trailer to Shutter Island for months now I was elated at the chance of watching it and putting the whole thing behind me. Not because I expected it to be bad… hell it has Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sir Ben Kingsley, I just wanted the trailers to finally go […]
After being bombarded by the trailer to Shutter Island for months now I was elated at the chance of watching it and putting the whole thing behind me. Not because I expected it to be bad… hell it has Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sir Ben Kingsley, I just wanted the trailers to finally go away. Shutter Island ended up being nothing like the trailers suggested, it was a journey through a series of dark hallways leading to a typical conclusion. The journey however splits off somewhere near the end, leaving you pleasantly surprised as well as remorseful at your earlier assumptions. While Martin Scorsese has built a reputation around depicting gangsters on film, this movie deals with a different form of drama than the ones we have grown accustomed to from him.
Plot (Minor Spoliers):
Shutter Island is a tale about U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) visiting a large Psychiatric Facility on a remote island known as Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient. The island has had a dark reputation that places fear in the hearts of would-be residents and the tall dank buildings with their courtyards decorated by the patients is enough to make it seem so. No-one looks happy at the facility, the doctors are drawn and melancholy, the residents have dead eyes, the orderlies shuffle along slowly about their duties and everyone is monitored by a host of armed guards. When Teddy and Chuck begin their investigation they are met with a cold reception and the smooth tongue of the island’s head physician Dr. Crowley (Ben Kingsley).
Teddy Daniels begins to suffer from migraines and nightmares detailing his dead wife, his service as an infantry man in World War 2 and the missing girl from Shutter Island. His dreams are long, odd and particularly creepy as his wife gives him clues and his flashbacks on the war shows piles of Jewish bodies, frozen and discarded in an inhumane fashion. When he comes to he is sweaty, disoriented and confused. The patients, police and doctors are elusive in their answers about the missing girl but some patients comply in subtle ways, hinting at a darker plot beyond what was being spun. The answers from the interviewees seemed coached and when Teddy finds out that the other head doctor – Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) is an old German, his suspicions of foul play increases.
As Teddy falls deeper and deeper into a bit of psychosis from his nightmares, the migraines and the continuous stormy weather on the island, his trust begins to wane even for partner Chuck. He admits to having an ulterior motive for coming to the island and his pursuit for Laeddis (Elias Koteas) the man who killed his wife begins to turn into obsession. When a bad storm disrupts the electric gates and barbed fences holding the patients in, Teddy takes the opportunity to slip into the maximum security building C, a building that had been held restricted from he and his partner since their arrival and the building that he suspected would have Laeddis and possibly the answer to the missing girl.
Shutter Island’s atmosphere is a miserable, dark, wet mess of rocks leaves and sea water. The patients looked marginally cared for and the dress, look and feel of everything was very much of the 1950’s. Leonardo DiCaprio’s raw emotion was powerful to witness near the end of the movie and his volatile actions throughout made him an unpredictable protagonist to follow. Ben Kingsley shows why he is a dangerous man to contend with onscreen as he captured the audience immediately in every scene that he held. His portrayal of Dr Crowley was that of a shady, sophisticated man who you couldn’t pinpoint whether to trust him or not during the investigation. The score was subtle and appropriate, skipping the need for loud noises and dramatic rush music to drive the audience’s emotions – I instead found it complementary to the movie and melancholy throughout. Above all else is the direction, the movie was a mind f-ck and you are constantly wondering intently until the closing scenes. The ending is poetic, as is the trademark of a Scorsese movie and you will be utterly pleased the way I was. It’s the solid team of Scorsese/DiCaprio all over again, this time in the dark, mysterious complication of the human mind.