On the Boston Harbour Islands, a woman is missing and Federal Marshall, Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island to solve the mystery, or so you think! Shutter Island is the newest artistic collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. And, the movie is a fascinating film which could have been a great horror film, but settles for being a very good thriller.
Leonardo DiCaprio portrays U.S. Marshall Daniels, who is a man with his own demons and they begin to surface early in the film. He is teamed with a new partner, Chuck Aule, played by Mark Ruffalo, and encounters a charming and elegant Dr. Cawley, played by Ben Kingsley. And, Shutter Island is the backdrop. It, as the story unfolds, is a mental hospital for the criminally insane and the unthinkable happens a patient disappears from a locked room.
The film, based on the best selling novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), has many twists and turns. Some are predictable, but many more are not. DiCaprio plays the fractured and righteously indigent Daniels with such genuineness that you forget that you are watching a film. Ben Kingsley is superb as the caring, suggestively sinister, Dr. Cawley. Ruffalo, Van Synow, Levine are absolute gems and play their parallel roles with incredible balance and intensity. Throughout the film, Scorsese plays with your mind and you like, Teddy Daniels, don’t know who to trust. It’s not clear who is the cat and who is the mouse until the very end of the film.
Scorsese is a master storyteller and his cinematography for this film properly sets the mood! It’s chaos prime. The terrain is rough and storms batter the scene adding to the intensity of the piece. The plot is played close to the vest with each scene having deeper meaning than the viewer realizes. Scorsese masterfully uses mental illness as a backdrop to show us that truth is only what we believe it to be. However, he offers enough paranoid dreams and hints to make the viewer guess and second guess. The lines between good and almost evil are very well blurred and this makes Shutter Island an extremely enjoyable film. But at the end of the film, Scorsese leaves us with an important question- is it is better to live as a monster or die a good man?
Shutter Island, from first frame to last, is a brilliant psychological thriller. Scorsese proves once again he is one of Hollywood’s Best and DiCaprio continues to confirm why he is one of Hollywood’s most gifted leading men. It will be curious to see if the Academy remembers Shutter Island for next years Oscars. I certainly hope so.