PLOT: Based on Dennis Lehane's novel, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck (Ruffalo) are called to a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the disappearance of a woman from the island’s hospital for the criminally insane.
WHO'S IT FOR? This is not a horror film. This is a thriller. There are also moments where Shutter Island truly takes its time. Be ready for some slow (but good) scenes. The blood is intense, but nothing compared to a slasher flick, and it's less than Inglourious Basterds.
EXPECTATIONS: I felt like I was waiting forever for this film. Originally it was due out in October. That's normally a red flag. But when's the last time Scorsese has truly messed up a movie? I'm glad you asked. It was 1999 with Nic Cage in Bringing Out The Dead.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels: DiCaprio plus Scorsese is a guarantee of talent. It's official. DiCaprio completely and utterly gives himself over to the portrayal of this messed up Marshall. Teddy is a man who has a checkered past, but that doesn't stop him from focusing on the mission at hand. If this had come out two months ago, I would be talking about DiCaprio's Best Actor nomination. Even when he's just playing seasick, it's a great performance. Score: 10
Mark Ruffalo as Chuck: After seeing this movie, I just want to run into Ruffalo so he can call me "boss" for a while. Chuck is Teddy's dutiful sidekick, and his performance might just be the one I want to pay attention to the most the second time I see this film. It's less showy than DiCaprio's role, but equally as important. Score: 9
Ben Kingsley as Dr. Cawley: Should I have called him Sir Ben Kingsley? Perhaps. After all, he does deserve it, with his performance as Dr. Cawley. Kingsley finds a great balance between trying to be an almost puppet master and a doctor. It's hard to be comfortable when he's speaking, yet he's insanely soothing to listen to. Score: 9
Max von Sydow as Dr. Naehring: Just having von Sydow show up makes this film more intense. Love that voice. Score: 8
Michelle Williams as Dolores: I'm not ruining anything here, I swear. Dolores is dead. We find this out early in the film. Her role is mainly told in flashbacks and dreams. Because of this, sanity, truth, believability ... they're all thrown out the window when judging her performance. It's an intense, uncomfortable role and she gets it right. Score: 8
TALKING: If someone ever called you crazy, and you defended yourself by insisting, "I'm not crazy!", well, you've got a problem. You just look crazy. That's the beautiful line this dialogue treads throughout the film. Each side character also seems to be given their moment, like Dr. Naehring explaining the difference between "men of violence" and "violent men." The ending of the film also gives weight to earlier dialogue you didn't even realize. Score: 9
SIGHTS: I'll be honest, because of the look of the film, and the pacing ... I was a little nervous to enter this island. It just seems like a bad idea. That's the brilliance of Scorsese and having a quality cinematographer. This is a great-looking, dark, creepy film. I even found myself enjoying the green screen use (like when they are driving around). It seemed more like an ode to older films (since this is set in the 50s) as opposed to a cop out to not using natural surroundings. Score: 10
SOUNDS: I'm never a fan of one-note music. Shutter Island comes the closest to pulling it off. When we are approaching the island, it's almost like a blow-horn musical note that keeps coming over and over again. It's intense. What's amazing is, it's the only intense thing going on, yet it totally controls the moment. Otherwise, it's just Teddy and Chuck getting driven up to an entrance. During a dream sequence, we see the same type of musical system being used with a repetitive piano note. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: Teddy and Chuck are lurking around a cemetery at night. Always a good idea on a creepy island. They head into a mausoleum to get some cover from the rain. Everything changes. The reason why Teddy is really there, and Chuck's theory as to what is really going on, blew my mind.
ENDING: Inevitability. That's the feeling I had toward the middle of the movie. I thought I knew where we were headed and I wasn't thrilled about it. I'm happy to report I was wrong. I loved the ending, though I never felt the film depending on a payoff. The process was great.
QUESTIONS: I'm curious what will stand out the most with any unanswered questions, but I honestly have to see it again to make sure.
REWATCHABILITY: Um, didn't you just read my "Questions" section? Actually, by the time you are reading this, there's a good chance I have already seen it a second time.
This is the first must-see film of 2010. That's my pimp statement for Shutter Island. Here's another, "This is one island you won't want to leave!" Wait, that doesn't make sense, since it's technically an island you would never want to find yourself on. Let's sick with the must-see. Man, guys like Peter Travers and Pete Hammond make those sellable quotes seem so easy.
It was a great feeling to be in Scorsese's hands after almost two months of average films. He controls every aspect of this film, and it's simply obvious he knows what he is doing. Once again, we get a really good DiCaprio show. We are completely and utterly on a journey with him, and want to know the truth of the mysterious disappearance of a woman just as much as he does. It's rare to have a film slow down and really keep you in a moment. Most films don't stick us in a dream sequence for 15 minutes. But here, it all works toward a great ending.
"You'll shutter yourself to death if you miss this film." Argh. Never mind, just go see this movie.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10