Review: Shutter Island

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Oh how we moan about movie clichés! Despite this, we expect, nay – demand them in our films. An asylum on a wind ravaged island HAS to be evil. If a lighthouse is said to be abandoned – it HAS to be occupied, and if someone wants to help us – oh, they must be hiding something! US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Di Caprio) arrives on Shutter Island accompanied by an overbearing musical score – oh evil just must be afoot.

A psychotic has escaped from the facility and the US Marshall’s office has been called in to find out how a person escaped from a locked room. Straight away hostile guards and evasive doctors just confirm our preconceptions – they are up to something. Seems a fairly straightforward plot so far – but it just keeps building and building, this isn’t going to be the ‘Fugitive 3’. Turns out Daniels wasn’t assigned to this case by accident – he has a history with an inmate, he’s worked hard to get assigned here – he knows there is a conspiracy and he’s going to crack it. However, something’s very wrong – Daniels is having hallucinations, seems people know his objectives – has he been lured to Shutter Island to silence him?

Director Martin Scorsese could only have been chuckling as he edited Shutter Island together – he knows exactly how the audience will react. No matter how a scene progresses we side with Daniels – hallucinations must mean Daniels has been drugged, a vague response is proof someone’s hiding things. While Daniels may not – we, the audience, know what’s going on! Shutter Island twists and turns and it won’t just be Daniels questioning himself by the end. Prepare to have your preconceptions turned on their head. By the end – you wont be sure which way is up. Think the ‘Usual Suspects’ has a twist? How about a film that leaves you wondering how effortlessly you were tricked – when deep down, you really should have seen this coming.

Simply put Shutter Island is a masterpiece. This is Alfred Hitchcock speaking through Scorsese, the audience are toys to be played with here. Leaving the cinema you are forced to reckon with the underlying paranoia and demand for convention that must follow you into each film. Shutter Island gripes from the start and never lets up – it’s not just Daniels that cant see the wood for the trees.

Di Caprio gives another fantastic performance. Frankly, if one can find fault with his performances these days you must be able to show me a better actor. Teddy Daniels is a ‘man of violence’, a troubled past boils over in paranoia and single mindedness – and I bought every word he said. Ben Kingsley delivers a superb performance as Dr Cawley, a character always hiding something – we’re perpetually off balance with his character.

Critics claim scenes are ‘overcooked’ – and certainly the music in the opening sequences is positively distracting. We expect a storm – when we get it its more like judgement day than a credible backdrop. I feel these comments are unfair – just as the pickpocket distracts you with a ‘clumsy’ collision, Scorsese throws up a smokescreen – depriving us of that moment of clarity that would help us see through things. Part thriller, part horror – it’s the ambience which is so compelling, the tension never lets up. Simply put – Shutter Island is among the best films I have ever seen.

9.5/10

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One Response to “Review: Shutter Island”

  1. Danjo Kazooe Says:

    Shutter Island is an incredibly predictable movie. In fact, you could probably guess the entire out come of the film from the trailer alone.

    That said, it is still a wonderful piece of Cinema. The cast is fantastic, especially Di Caprio. The direction is gloriously, and the tale is masterfully told.

    It is just a shame Scorsese didnt inject a little more imagination, and ambiguity into the movies resolution.

    8/10

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