This week’s Bonus Content is about movies again. This time we cast a critical eye over Shutter Island and we even give it a score!
It’s probably fair to say that anything Martin Scorsese turns his hand to will be worth watching. Whether it be one of his earlier works like Mean Streets or Taxi Driver, right through to his films of the new millennium like Gangs of New York and The Departed, the 67 year-old is one of the best things to have ever happened to cinema – but is his latest film, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel, Shutter Island, continuing Scorsese’s cinematic legacy?
Scorsese hands the lead role to Leonardo DiCaprio for the fourth time and their partnership appears stronger than ever. Playing US Marshall Teddy Daniels, DiCaprio appears to have completely ridden himself of the poster boy image that he once had whilst Scorsese retains the techniques that make him such a powerhouse within the world of cinema.
Set in the 1950s on an island which houses an asylum for the criminally insane, US Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck (Ruffalo) arrive to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Daniels also has a personal motive for his visit, believing his wife’s murderer – Andrew Laeddis – is a patient on the island. But, as the story unfolds, Daniels discovers that the island may also be the home of horrific and unethical treatments. The staff, including senior psychologist Cawley (Ben Kingsley), appear evasive and defensive about the asylum as Daniels begins to suspect a conspiracy to cover up the truth regarding Laeddis’ whereabouts.
Despite archetypal horror fixtures such as an asylum, a mysterious lighthouse, weather so bad even Michael Fish would have a hard time denying its existence and a numerical conundrum leading to an unspoken ‘67th’, this is not a horror. It does provide the odd jump here and there depending on how easy you scare but you get the sense that Scorsese is just relishing in a film that doesn’t revolve around Mafias and gangsters.
There are so many events and pieces of information to digest from the minute the film starts that there is almost a feeling of being overwhelmed. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s confused, although confusion will hit you at some point, as it never feels like it’s lost its way; but when a film such as this, laden with flashbacks and hallucinations, doesn’t reveal any real answers until the last quarter, you may find yourself trying to cross reference everything. Some may say this adds to the intrigue and mystery and some may say it’s a little distracting – I’d have to say it does a bit of both.
Scorsese’s style and presentation along with a strong cast does provide enough mystery for you to want to ride it out, however. The location is perfect for the story’s narrative to unravel in and with a good dose of murder, Nazis, disappearances, reappearances, reality, make-believe, creepy forts and dead children; this is one mystery that will almost certainly entertain and immerse the masses. The characters are believable and likeable which causes you to want to see them succeed, or get their comeuppance, and this in turn creates a tension in certain scenes, adding to the already great atmosphere that this film creates.
The film does contain a ‘twist’, but, in my opinion, it’s a twist that isn’t exactly surprising. It’s not new or original and some may even see it coming from a long way away but Scorsese does what he does best and the very last piece of dialogue provides a very satisfying, albeit vague, ending.
All-in-all, Shutter Island is a great psychological thriller that will entertain and cause you to think. It falls just short of the expectations that many will hold when any new film by Scorsese is announced, but he works enough skill and experience on the subject material to still provide a worthwhile viewing experience. DiCaprio plays his part brilliantly with superb support by Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. Michelle Williams also turns in a great performance despite it being relatively small in terms of screen time and whilst this is an adaptation that doesn’t surpass the written source material, it certainly does it proud.