New Film: Shutter Island (15) + trailerBy Kim Francis
March 03, 2010
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow
Everybody loves a Scorsese picture. The man behind such hard-hitting classics as Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and, more recently,
The Departed, he is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats.
Picking up once again with his current favourite leading man Leonardo DiCaprio to tread ground never previously trodden by the pair, Shutter Island is a compelling, twisting thriller with a tantalising murder mystery element.
DiCaprio is Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal sent with his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate the disappearance of Rachel (Emily Mortimer), a patient at Shutter Island – a high security facility housing and seeking to rehabilitate some of the most dangerous mentally-disturbed criminals in 1950s’ America.
As Teddy attempts to solve the case, through a series of interviews with ‘patients’ and staff, including the suspicious Dr Cawley (Sir Ben Kingsley) and the shady Dr Naehring (Max von Sydow), he finds himself getting nowhere.
As he becomes increasingly plagued by visions relating to his own past and also to the facility, he begins to question both the possibility of a conspiracy and his own sanity.
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Scorsese layers on the menace and a heavy sense of foreboding right from the film’s opening scenes.
An edgy Teddy Daniels rings his hands awkwardly and smokes nervously as he heads over to the island against the strains of a pervasive tension-filled Hermannesque music score – a key instrument in setting the film’s unsettling tone and sense of impending doom.
Scorsese’s treatment of the screenplay, with its many plot twists and turns and its focus on DiCaprio’s fragile state of mind means that you’re never sure who to trust, or what’s going on, meaning in turn that you never know quite where you are in the film, which seems to have no centre.
Influences from a number of classic film noirs are clearly visible, with Scorsese using familiar motifs throughout, including voiceover and low-key lighting, as well as a storm-lashed environment. This is used to great effect both to ratchet up the tension and to reflect Daniels’ confused state of mind.
Just as he is physically unable to leave the island, neither can he escape his increasingly bewildered mental state.
DiCaprio’s accomplished performance as a bereft man haunted by nightmarish visions of his past and memories of his dead wife Dolores (Michelle Williams) is a tour-de-force. As he plunges deeper into confusion, so his acting becomes increasingly overwrought.
Shutter Island is a brilliantly executed atmospheric twisting mystery thriller that will keep you gripped – and keep you guessing – even after the credits have rolled.