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Shutter Island

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Continuing their string of box-office hits and critical successes, legendary dynamic duo Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are back together again in their fourth collaboration, Shutter Island. DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal investigating with his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), the disappearance of a murderess from a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane located on sinister Shutter Island. The hospital staff, headed by Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), seems to be hiding something, and with increasingly eerie occurrences and a fast-approaching storm, it is apparent that time is running out and that there are ulterior motives for all on Shutter Island.

Flawless, powerful performances from DiCaprio, Kingsley, Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, and the rest of the cast, as well as a quick-paced, no-nonsense screenplay adapted from the novel by Dennis Lehane, make for a gripping, dark thriller. The music, none of which was written specifically for the film, remarkably, is one of the most noticeable aspects of the film. Music plays an important part in establishing the tone, at times taut and ominous and at others beautifully tragic. These elements combine with director Scorsese’s incredible attention to detail to produce pure poetry on screen.

The psychological thriller is a considerable departure from Scorsese and DiCaprio’s usual repertoire, but together they have redefined the genre and expanded its boundaries. As genre films go, Shutter Island is not at all a typical movie but rather an experience, an honest, elegant, and heartbreaking portrayal of the human mind and memory that means so much more than the story or twist ending itself. And this twist ending, the hallmark of the thriller genre, has disappointed some viewers because it was not intended to be shocking in the way of The Sixth Sense’s “He was dead the whole time!” or Psycho’s similarly scandalous revelation. Instead, the ending was meant to shed some light on the beautiful enigma that is the human mind.

Despite this quiet contemplation of life’s big questions that Shutter Island entails, the film is still enthralling, a thrill ride from start to finish. It does what many other films of its genre fail to do: achieve a perfect balance between the psychological and the thriller aspects. The film seemingly transports viewers to the island and allows them to walk in the protagonist’s shoes like no other movie has done before. However, the plot moves in so many different directions that it becomes mind-bending and, at times, difficult to follow.

DiCaprio, front and center in the film, steals the stage with his beautiful portrayal of an anguished man searching for answers and piecing together his own fractured past. The film itself is also like a puzzle; viewers gather pieces of it as the film progresses, and some (who feel that the ending is not enough of a twist) may put it together more quickly. However, by the end, when the puzzle is completed for everyone, the image that is finally presented will still differ for each viewer, for the pieces may fit together in any number of ways. It is a film that connects deeply with its viewers and completely engages them; because it is relevant on so many levels, it allows for each person’s own interpretation of its true meaning.

At the same time, Shutter Island pays tribute to the great Alfred Hitchcock, master of the psychological thriller, and is also suggestive of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining. Like the latter’s secluded hotel, Shutter Island’s insane asylum is the perfect place to depict shattered lives and crumbling reality. This very tender, complex, and human film will leave viewers bewildered and overwhelmed with the contemplation of how some actions can change our lives forever, how we can never quite escape the past.





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Vesperstar1 said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm
Nice review! I liked what you had to say about it! It's such an amazing movie!
 
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