REVIEW: Shutter Island

27 02 2010

Shutter Island” is director Martin Scorsese’s first movie since he floored the Academy (as well as one semi-notable movie blogger) with “The Departed,” which only serves to set the bar sky-high to clear.  It would take another modern classic to surpass “The Departed,” and this isn’t that.  However, this is high-octane, heart-pumping Hollywood entertainment that delivers the chills and thrills.

Keep in mind, though, this is Scorsese we are talking about here.  “Shutter Island” is no Michael Bay movie.  It succeeds largely because of that unique Scorsese vision which has been the driving force behind two of my all-time favorite movies.  It’s important to know that he isn’t trying to make a “Taxi Driver” out of Dennis Lehane’s novel; this is an homage to the classic horror films of Hitchcock and the like.  If you get déjà vu at all, it will probably more to “The Shining” than to “GoodFellas.”

The movie explores the line between insanity and reality as two federal marshals (Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo) investigate the disappearance of a patient at an asylum.  As Teddy Daniels’ (DiCaprio) observations progress, we come to two important realizations.  The first is that Teddy has something more on his mind than merely investigating a missing patient.  The second, and by far the most important, is that there is something more than just lingering seasickness affecting Teddy’s mind.

Shutter Island

In my usual formula for a review, this is where I break into serious discussion about the individual elements of a movie.  But this is Scorsese, is that really necessary?  You saw his impressive resumé when he got the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes; the man knows exactly what he is doing at all times.  It has become an assumption that everything is executed with pin-point accuracy in his films, and “Shutter Island” is no exception.  I only planned to elaborate if something was flagrantly out of whack, and, as I expected, nothing was.

The stand-out element to me was the acting, in particular Leonardo DiCaprio.  He has become a sort of muse to Scorsese, and they have consistently brought out the best in each other.  This is their fourth collaboration, and it is by far his top performance of the set (although I still maintain that his career best work was in “Revolutionary Road“).  DiCaprio wears his distress on his sleeves, and he packs loads of intensity into a character that becomes more and more enigmatic as the movie progresses.  We never sense him losing control at all, and his skilled acting really helps to increase the level of paranoia in the movie.  The supporting cast is phenomenal as well, with striking turns from Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, and Max Von Sydow.

Given how messy movies in a similar vein can get, “Shutter Island” maintains its composure throughout.  Even in its most complicated sections, it never left me in the dust or made me want to give up.  I remained completely engrossed for every minute of the movie, and I will most certainly be discussing and thinking about its intricacies for some time.

As my lead-off movie of 2010, “Shutter Island” gets the year off to a pretty good start.  It’s that beautiful kind of movie that leaves me reeling and pondering, and it is a fantastic movie event because it sparks intense conversation and debate.  By the time you reach the breathtaking conclusion, you’ll be wishing you had paid closer attention.  It’s a movie that you’ll want to see twice so you can get everything Scorsese wants you to get out of it – and that’s a refreshing thing to get in February.  A- /

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3 responses

27 02 2010
Branden

I kinda liked that Scorsese met the viewer feel what Teddy is feeling with the gaffes, the changing head positions, the continuity errors. You had take a double take. Did I see what I thought I saw?

27 02 2010
Castor

Only a few more days before I see this… I can’t wait!!! Nice review Marshall

27 02 2010
Marshall

It’s a killer experience. Get excited.

And thanks for the kind words, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.

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