Friday, April 16, 2010


Directed by Martin Scorsese, Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo & Ben Kingsley

"Shutter Island" contains music plumbed from the depths of a 1930's horror film.  It is booming, melodramatic and frequently overwhelms the soundtrack.  It is also pitch perfect.

Here we have a completely immersive film.  It drenches you in its foreboding atmosphere right from the start, as federal marshals Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) are escorted into Shutter Island's prison turned asylum, its walls looming over them.  They have been dispatched to this hellish place in order to investigate the disappearance of one of its patients.  We are told by Dr. Cawley, an effortlessly chilling Ben Kingsley, that it is as if she simply "evaporated through the walls".  As time crawls on, you begin to feel that such a thing is possible here.

Both the staff and inmates view Teddy with a mixture of curiosity and contempt.  Or is that all in Teddy's imagination?  It is not long before he begins to question everything he sees and hears, and so do we. Nothing quite adds up.  Why does this investigation require two outsiders with no working knowledge of the facility itself?  Why does Teddy keep having flashbacks involving his aid in liberating a Nazi Death camp? 

I mentioned the score earlier.  It is fantastic, and so I have mentioned it again.  It is not the only classic horror device Scorsese uses here.  There is also a rain storm, complete with high winds, lightning and thunder, as well as the perpetual darkness within the asylums walls.  Teddy spends a great deal of time stumbling around in darkness, both literally and figuratively.

I have heard and read many complaints regarding the ending.  If you are looking for a mind blowing twist, look elsewhere.  Scorsese does not make gimmicky films, but he is an expert craftsman.  You will probably have some idea where things are headed, but the real achievement here is in making you second guess yourself along the way.  Even when the answers are revealed, you are not one hundred percent convinced.  For most of the film both Teddy and I were in the same boat, certain only of our own uncertainty.


No comments:

Post a Comment