While by no means Martin Scorcese’s best work, the suspenseful thriller Shutter Island never really puts itself in a position to be judged alongside the eminent director’s more grandiose pieces.
This is genre piece, a psychological thriller in the classic sense — made all the more classic by the 1950s setting. And in its efforts to titillate, distract, confuse and entertain it makes no attempt to live up to the ‘feel’ of a Martin Scorcese film, or the hype surrounding the man in the director’s chair. That’s a good thing, I say.
All the elements are there — a stunningly talented cast, a beautifully structured plot firmly rooted in political and social circumstances of its times, and inspired photography.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow draw the viewer in like a rat in a maze into a gritty, frightening world where nothing may be as it seems.
DiCaprio and Ruffalo play a pair of U.S. Marshals, investigating the baffling disappearance of a mental patient on a desolate island-bound institution for the criminally insane.
When nothing in their investigation adds up, DiCaprio’s character Teddy Daniels begins to suspect a conspiracy is afoot despite arguments to the contrary by Shutter Island’s top shrink, played by Ben Kingsley.
As the tension rises and the viewer is torn between what to believe, a hurricane settles in cutting off all means of escape from shifting realities of Shutter Island.
To reveal anything more would be acrime.
If there was anything that seemed a little disappointing, it could have been DiCaprio — for whom the mannerisms and persona of a 1950s detective seemed a little forced when put up against the easy swagger of Mark Ruffalo whose talents seemed underused in this film.
Kingsley is, as always, a joy to watch. So was a bit part involving Jackie Earle Haley who has returned to form as Rorschach in the recent Watchmen film and stars as the new Freddy Kruger in the latest reprise of Nightmare on Elm St.
A great flick for a stormy night at home, or better yet at the cabin.
By Chris Marchand