Director: Martin Scorsese
Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer,
Michelle Williams, Max Von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie
Earl Haley, Ruby Jerins, Ted Levine, Elias Koteas, John Carroll
Lynch, Nellie Sciutto
RunTime: 2 hrs 18 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence and Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.shutterisland.com/
Opening Day: 25 February 2010
From Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, "Shutter Island" is the story of two U.S. marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), who are summoned to a remote and barren island off the cost of Massachusetts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from the island's fortress-like hospital for the criminally insane.
So Martin Scorsese has finally gotten his Oscar with The Departed (2007), that is, after countless nominations for Best Director over the past two decades. This man was nominated for films like Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Goodfellas (1990). One word: Goodfellas. What were you thinking – voters at the Academy? Anyway, what’s next after bringing home that golden man? Continue making films, of course. And here we have Scorsese’s latest work – although somewhat offbeat at times, but is a fine example why he is one of the best filmmakers of our age.
Based on mystery author Dennis Lehane’s novel and a screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis (Pathfinder, Alexander), Scorsese directs a crime drama brimming with mystery and thrills enough to bring in the mainstream crowd. Set in 1954, our male protagonist is a US Marshall who embarks on a journey to the titular Shutter Island, where a woman has escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane, and is hiding on a remote part of the island. The plot thickens as his gets a grip on his own tragic past and becomes entwined in the cloud of secrets which spells C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y.
We must admit that after the director’s rather commercial epics Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004), this wasn’t what we were expecting. A genre thriller which has suspicions lurking around every corner, instead of grand patriotism for the Great American Spirit? We were caught off guard. Of course, we should have trusted the visionary director to bring this fictionalized tale to the screen, and with such engaging effect too.
The moment the film begins, it instills a sense of brood and urgency into its viewers, especially with its uncomfortably insistent score. Here we see the male protagonist and his partner on a ship approaching Shutter Island. The weather conditions are bad. The island looks uninviting. And that is a sign this film isn’t going to be one fun and easy ride. There will be disturbing images and enough visual jolts to have you leaving the theatre dazed and shaken.
A competently capable cast has been chosen for this production. After working with the director on his last few films, leading man Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road, Body of Lies) is evidently comfortable in his portrayal of the traumatized US Marshall with a dark secret, as he lets loose all his emotions to make the viewers empathize and feel for his pain. He is joined by the underrated Mark Ruffalo (The Brothers Bloom, Blindness) who plays his partner, the always reliable Ben Kingsley (Elegy, Lucky Number Slevin) who plays a figure of authority on the island and the delicately beautiful Michelle Williams (I’m Not There, Brokeback Mountain) who plays a dead wife who haunts DiCaprio’s memories. And the film has also managed to garner the wonderful performances by supporting actors like Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley. But then again, who would give up the opportunity to work with Scorsese?
Other than milking affecting performances from his cast, the accomplished director also managed to tell a grippingly rousing story with his talent for visuals. Whether it’s DiCaprio’s tormented flashbacks (watch out for the heartbreaking palette of colours used in these sequences) or his journey into the dark catacombs of Shutter island (beware of the scares round the corner), it is clear that the visuals have nicely complemented the storytelling.
So while you would feel an uncomfortable sense of underwhelming awkwardness as the 138 minute film rolls its end credits, you’d be left in awe with what the talented director has managed to pull off with a story meant for print.
(Watch this for the cast’s wonderful performances and be impressed by the director’s flair in bringing this story from print to screen)
Review by John Li