Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
Laeta Kalogridis
Director: Martin Scorsese
Company: Paramount Pictures

I admit, February hasn't been a good month for me and movie watching. After getting the Playstation 3, I have been spending all my time at home using and abusing Netflix Watch Instantly while moves like The Wolfman and Valentine's Day (I'm a sucker for ensemble films) passed me by. Shutter Island, however, has gotten me out of my hole finally. When it was pushed back from its crappy October release date to the dead zone of February, I was skeptical about the quality. Did Martin Scorsese finally make something that people wouldn't drool all over? I'm here to say that not only does Shutter Island exceed my expectations, it's five hundred times better than the overrated Departed. Yeah, I said it.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Teddy Daniels, a (DULY APPOINTED) U.S. Federal Marshall who along with his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) are sent out to Shutter Island to locate a missing person named Rachel Solando. The island is home to Ashecroffe, an institution for the criminally insane full of disturbed individuals that other hospitals cannot handle. Ashecroffe is run by the enigmatic Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), a nice enough doctor who seems to be hiding something. As Teddy and Chuck try to find the whereabouts of Solando, they begin to wonder if they are in over their heads and begin to find out there is more to this island than they may have originally thought.

Scorsese is always able to stack his films to the gills with talent, and Shutter Island is no exception.Every role, minor or not, is filled with the best actor or actress available in Hollywood. DiCaprio does the best work he's done in a very long time as Teddy, and should honestly get some sort of recognition next awards season. The character appears in the beginning to just be another generic federal officer that anyone could play, but there's more to it. Teddy is haunted by visions of his time in World War 2, as well as visions of his late wife Dolores (Michelle Williams), who died in a fire awhile back. Dealing with the grief and sadness both events brought dictates his actions, and DiCaprio does an amazing job in everything. His Boston accent even sounded tons better than when he did The Departed and as a man from Massachusetts, that is a big deal (take notes Mel Gibson!). Mark Ruffalo also gets time to shine. He is an underrated actor and I love seeing him get to do something mainstream other than a lame romantic comedy (please God, do not let Just Like Heaven 2 ever exist!). Ben Kingsley also turns in his once a decade respectable performance as the head of the institution, showing the world A Sound of Thunder and other films of that ilk are just there to buy boats and islands and whatever else celebrities love to buy and get audited for. Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Elias Koteas, Jackie Earl Haley, Patricia Clarkson...the list goes on and on of legitimately good actors that fill out this film. Everyone who has a speaking line is of the highest quality.

Scorsese has also made a beautiful looking movie too. I admit I'm not a big Cinematography nerd, and I don't know terms, but the movie looks absolutely beautiful, moody, and dark all at once. I don't remember Scorsese ever really using effects in his stuff, but he makes great use of it and it's just a joy to look at.

Shutter Island is excellently written. Adapted from a book by Dennis Lahane, it takes so many twists and turns and it's very compelling and suspenseful. I won't give away any of the twists, but they are handled very well and will have you putting together pieces you may have overlooked earlier.

The score also needs mentioning. Robbie Robertson has helped create a haunting score that complements the old time feel of Shutter Island. Especially in the beginning, it makes you feel like you are watching a film from the 50's (when the film takes place), and would fit very well in a Hitchcock movie. I highly suggest listening to the soundtrack if you get a chance.

Shutter Island is an excellent addition to the ridiculously huge and almost flawless resume of Martin Scorsese. An excellent and compelling story, amazing acting (especially on DiCaprio and Ruffalo's parts), and it keeps your eyes glued right to the screen. This is a movie that is worth the hype and worth the watch. Not to sound like a pull quote whore critic, but it does honestly keep you guessing and captivated until the credits roll.

Final Verdict:

3/7/2010 06:27:20 pm

Well Written Review
On my first viewing, I would've given this film a low score
It takes the second or even third viewing to really put things together, with regard to both plot mechanics, acting, cinematography, etc...
It's also nice to find someone who also finds The Departed overrated.

3/16/2010 04:51:33 pm

I watched this a second time last week, and I agree that it is even better once you know what is going on. It allows you to sit back and enjoy the performances more.


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