Shutter Island


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Ruffalo and DiCaprio in Shutter Island
"Sadly, while this is as technically impressive as you'd expect from the big spec-wearing director, it's not the masterful thriller-come-scare-fest you might have hoped for."

For some moviegoers, Martin Scorsese movies fall into two categories - the cool, career-high gangster flicks we all want him to make and everything else. Adapting Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name, Shutter Island obviously falls into the latter grouping and will attract attention as its the closest thing to horror Scorsese's done since Cape Fear.

It's 1954 and US Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) has been sent to a highly dangerous offshore asylum for the criminally-insane with a new partner (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess. Though heading there with the ulterior motive of confronting the man responsible for his wife's (Michelle Williams) death, Teddy soon begins to suspect senior psychologist Dr Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and co are conducting secret experiments.

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Sadly, while this is as technically impressive as you'd expect from the spec-wearing director, it's not the masterful thriller-come-scare-fest you might have hoped for. However, thigs start off suitably atmospheric, with the jagged score and imposing island essentially signalling impending doom. But then, just as the stormy weather and dreary ambience is washing over in a depressingly-bleak wave, the confusion arrives to knock us right off-balance - and we're never allowed to recover.

It soon becomes apparent that in Teddy we have an unreliable narrator; his flashbacks, hallucinations and dreams all so mixed up that the plot is one big muddy puddle of a narrative. As such, we're never close to being emotionally-invested or sympathetic to his plight, regardless of how tight the walls close in. With paranoia everywhere, its clear Marty's influences include Fifties noir, Hitchcock and recent masterpiece Memento.

In his fourth collaboration with the celebrated director, DiCaprio gives another one of his sporadically intense 'mature' performances, without offering anything new to convince the gainsayers. The support is great though, with the likes of Ted Levine (scary), Jackie Earle Haley (unsettling) and Max von Sydow (ominous) all popping up. Ruffalo does well in a thankless task, but it’s Kingsley who's the highlight, bringing the project up a star-rating on his own.

Unsettling, atmospheric and noirish yes, but Shutter Island isn't a satisfying experience.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2010
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Two US marshalls are sent to a remote island to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from a mental asylum.
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Read more Shutter Island reviews:

Anton Bitel ****

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch, Elias Koteas

Year: 2010

Runtime: 138 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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