Movie Review - Shutter Island(2010)

June 5th, 2010 - 4:46 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

Shutter Island: A terrific thriller

Rating: 3.5 out of 5*

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams and Ben Kingsley

Director: Martin Scorsese

June 5, 2010 (Sampurn Wire):The movie takes place in 1954; US Marshals Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) take a Massachusetts ferry to Shutter Island, where a prison for the criminally insane insulates its inmates from the mainland. In fact, Chief psychologist Dr. Crawey (Ben Kingsley) prefers that the residents of Shutter Island be called “patients” - and in the case of the present mystery, one such disturbed individual has mysteriously escaped from her locked room while a bevy of guards stood watch. It’s Daniels’ and Aule’s job to figure out what happened; but with a hurricane bearing down and a significant amount of circumstantial evidence pointing to illegal drug therapy and invasive brain surgery on the island, things rapidly go a little… er, crazy. And if the two Marshals can’t get off the island, the truth might never be known.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), with a screenplay from Laeta Kalogridis, this multisided thriller plays its secrets so cleverly that a viewer could easily get lost in its complex misdirection. Even when it becomes apparent that not all is what it seems, several other surprises lie ahead.

It’s an interesting premise, born of our long fascination with psychological deviation; unfortunately the film distracts its audience from what should have been an accelerating descent, ala Conrad, into the heart of one man’s darkness. Regrettably, Scorsese paces the film erratically; some moments are riveting, while others are interminably slow. And where Lehane’s written machinations are effective at keeping his readers guessing for much of the book, the film is far, far more transparent - not a good thing when the emotional success of a movie hinges on keeping its audience off-guard. Rather than relying on character and the muddling of exposition to achieve his goals, Scorsese throws in contrastive, turgid musical themes and a combination of swish-pans and arcing craned camera moves; these serve merely to disconnect his audience from the evolving riddle. And for many, the lack of effective prestidigitation will shortcut the mystery’s guessing game.

DiCaprio manages to deliver a character alternatively determined and disturbed, a potent mix that he plays well; this might be his most acute exploration of the human condition yet. Kingsley also works his role to depth, imbuing a rather simple mad doctor pastiche with nuances that, in the case of Crawey, keep his motives well-masked. And there are some very effective smaller performances - most notably Ted Levine in the role of a hyper-rational Warden.

Ultimately the film may not be a Martin Scorsese masterpiece but nevertheless deserves a watch!

-Sampurn Wire

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