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RELEASED: 2010, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 138 mins
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
PRODUCERS: Brad Fischer, Mike Medavoy & Martin Scorsese
SCREENPLAY: Laeta Kalogrids
MUSIC: No info available on my DVD sleeve
Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo as Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley as Dr. Cawley
Michelle Williams as Dolores
FILM ONLY REVIEW
The year is 1954, and two cops travel by boat to Shutter Island, upon which stands an asylum for the criminally insane. Once on the island, it is impossible to get off any other way than by the boat which is managed by the asylum staff.
Cop Teddy Daniels has a few demons of his own raging away inside of his mind, being constantly plagued with some disturbing memories from his time serving as an American soldier in WW2, and still grieving over the death of his wife.
The reason why Teddy and his sidekick Chuck Aule visit Shutter Island is that one of the inmates who is very dangerous, has vanished and nobody can find her. It is impossible that she could have left the island and the asylum staff members are at a loss to understand where she could have gone.
As Teddy begins his investigations, he becomes very suspicious over some of the practices in the asylum....and, what is happening inside of the lighthouse which rests at the bottom of a cliff?
I frequently am a little wary about Martin Scorsese's offerings, as although he has directed one or two films that I've really enjoyed and which have become my all-time favourites, I do feel he has a tendency to go over the top, occasionally mis-using the facility of special effects to the point where he wanders off into a land of attempted surrealism, yet isn't able to perfect it like some other directors can. However, Shutter Island has been on my 'to watch' list for quite some time, so I recently bit the bullet and watched it, to see what it is all about and if it deserves all the praise and hype it has received.
The opening to the storyline is set well, to the point where as I watched Teddy and Chuck travel to Shutter Island, complete with Teddy being violently seasick, I felt that I could possibly be in for a treat.
Once inside the asylum at Shutter Island, there is a creeping, all pervading, grim atmosphere which I thoroughly enjoyed....this atmosphere being enhanced by a wild storm raging outside. However, I found the music to be far too overbearing, loud and dramatic. There are no credits for a musical score on my DVD sleeve, but I honestly feel the film easily and comfortably could have done without any at all, as it creates enough atmosphere of its own.
As Teddy delves deeper with his investigations, one or two of his lines of enquiry came across as a bit confusing to me as unless I blinked and missed something, I was unable to see the connection between the missing woman and somebody apparently connected with the death of Teddy's wife. This I felt could have been explained more clearly.....but, towards the end of the film, I suddenly understood the missing link.
For me, some of the ways in which the patients (or should I call them inmates?) were presented was unnatural and a bit over the top. I also felt that various characters were brought into the ring who were totally unnecessary and surplus to the plot.
I did feel that Teddy's hallucinations, nightmares and disturbing flashbacks could have been presented better, they being well and truly tainted with the Scorsese trademark of unnecessary attempts at semi-surrealism....as said above in my preamble, it's not a thing I feel he does well as a director (those best at it in my opinion are Roman Polanski, John Schlesinger and David Lynch on a good day). This gave large swathes of the film the sillier side of the Scorsese treatment, which I felt distracted from the essentials of the storyline.
However, one thing Scorsese does do well here (ably assisted by the acting and production team) is to create a grim, tense, brooding atmosphere which completely swallowed me into the film. The location is perfect, and much attention was paid to accurate historic detail.
The cast members are on the bitty side, with what I took to be some irrelevant hopping from one disturbed inmate to another, without much being there to cement them together and create meaningful links. However, Leonardo DiCaprio comes into his element, giving a truly admirable performance as the troubled investigative cop who has some demons of his own. Ben Kingsley also is very good as Dr. Cawley, the calmly-spoken yet argumentative overall chief of the institution.
Shutter Island does have a healthy level of mystery running through it, but the tension was tampered with by Scorsese's overdoing of dream scenes, hallucinations and nightmares. Of course such should have been shown and detailed, as they are essential to the storyline, but this is a film which needs to stand on terra firma and not wander off into the windmills of the director's private imagination.
There is a huge, huge twist in Shutter Island which I didn't see coming, but as soon as I'd watched the whole thing and the closing credits rolled, I almost kicked myself for not latching onto it....firstly because with hindsight I can say it is almost glaringly obvious, and secondly because I've seen another film which although very different in style, story and content, has almost the same ending - I can't say which film it is because of risking a big spoiler, suffice to say that it is one I've already reviewed, some while ago. However, I did find quite a lot of Shutter Island exciting, with my heart leaping into my mouth through some of the clifftop scenes....I am scared of heights, and I feel these scenes were put across very well.
It does sound as though I'm picking Shutter Island to pieces, and I stand by my belief that it does contain a lot of flaws, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, finding it absorbing, intense, gripping, grim....virtually all-consuming. Had I not put my concentration hat firmly on at about the midway point, I may have lost the plotline completely, but luckily I was able to hang on in there and see it through without misunderstanding anything (or much).
Shutter Island is definitely one of these 'must see' films. In a strange sort of way I do feel that it deserves all the praise and hype, although I wish Scorsese had kept his feet on the ground and presented the dream/hallucination parts differently because as they stand, they add a slight touch of ridiculousness to what is a very serious, darkly powerful psychological thriller.
Would I recommend Shutter Island? My simple answer is .......yes, definitely, even with its dodgy bits!
At the time of writing, Shutter Island can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.25 to £143.00 (!!!)
Used: from 5p to £6.99
Collectible: only 2 copies currently available @ £1.80 & £5.99 (both appear to be used)
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Shutter Island is something of a departure for Martin Scorsese. Normally, his films New York based character studies of how good men can be seduced by evil. On the face of it, Shutter Island is more of a popcorn movie, a bog standard conspiracy thriller, although in the hands of Director Scorsese and writer Dennis Lehane, the truth is somewhat more complex.
US Marshall Teddy Daniels is sent to Shutter Island, an asylum for the criminally insane off the coast of Maine. There to investigate the disappearance of a prisoner, he soon starts to realise that all is not what it seems.
Shutter Island is one of those clever films with a well-structured narrative. You spend much of it confused (in a good way!) and trying to work out (along with Teddy) what on earth is going on. It's clear from very early on that something is not right on the island, but piecing together all the seemingly contradictory information is challenging. It's a slow-burning film where everything builds towards the climax and the big reveal.
This leads to a strong sense of atmosphere and tension. Shutter Island is not a "horror" film, but it uses many of the techniques common to that genre. Everything is seen in the half-dark, layered in shadows; danger seems to lurk around every corner, although in reality there is relatively little real peril. The sense of tension is heightened by the isolated location, the weather (a storm hits Shutter Island, preventing any chance of escape) and the people Teddy encounters (dangerous criminal lunatics). The script combines these elements effectively to create a sense of creeping danger that puts the viewer on edge.
It is helped by some excellent camera work from Martin Scorsese. Shutter Island may be something of a change of direction for him, but he takes it in his stride, using all his knowledge and experience to maintain the tension through his camera work. The jarring, odd camera angles reinforce the sense of danger and the feeling that something is very, very wrong.
The film is cleverly constructed so that once you have watched it and seen how it ends, you think back over what you have seen. Suddenly apparently random conversations or events make sense in a way they didn't before and the reactions of some people to Teddy's questions are more understandable. It's definitely one of those films that you will want to watch at least twice: the first time to get the basic flow of the story; the second time to appreciate the clever narrative structure and to pick up on all the (obvious) little pointers that you missed first time around.
If there's a major criticism, it's that the film is too long, particularly in its closing moments. The flashback sequences that explain how we came to that position are dragged out which leads to the tension seeping away a little. This is a real shame, because this should be the film's "Sixth Sense" moment when everything suddenly come together and make sense. Yes, that happens, but because the end sequences are drawn out, their impact is blunted.
As you might expect from a by Martin Scorsese film, Shutter Island has attracted a top-notch cast. Leonardo DiCaprio may sometimes rely a little too heavily on frowning severely to communicate confusion/anger (or pretty much every emotion, in fact) but he gets away with it in this role, because his character is meant to be permanently confused. Mark Ruffalo provides strong support in a much less showy role as Teddy's back-up, Chuck and the two work well together.
Ben Kingsley is superb - and suitably ambiguous - as psychiatrist Dr Cawley, and you spend the whole film trying to work out whether he genuinely is trying to help Teddy, or whether he is being obstructive and hiding some dark secret. Max von Sydow is similarly eerie as Dr Naering - a man Teddy suspects may be an ex-Nazi conducting illegal experiments on the patients of Shutter Island. Both play their parts well, bringing a subtlety that means you are never quite sure what to make of them. These ambiguous performances add to the already tense atmosphere.
I'd heard mixed things about Shutter Island before watching it for myself. Some hailed it the best modern thriller of recent years; others dismissed it as "slow" and "boring". As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, Shutter Island's pacing can be a little pedestrian, but this is also used effectively to build a tense atmosphere. Despite one or two slips it is an interesting and cleverly told story and one that will benefit from repeat watching. I certainly intend to watch it again sometime soon so that I can pick up on all the clues that I missed first time around. When a film makes you want to see if again, you know it's done its job.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Running time: approx. 138 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
Shutter Island 
Released: 2010, Run-time: 138 minutes, Genre: Drama/Mystery/ Psychological thriller.
Film only review, watched via Netflix.
It's 1954 and emotionally unstable war veteran, U.S Marshall, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) has been sent to Shutter Island to investigate the escape and subsequent disappearance of inmate and criminally insane murderer Rachel (Emily Mortimer). Shutter Island is a high security institution for the criminally insane and is situated on it's own island. It is on treacherous land, un-reachable unless by boat and is frequently battered by extreme weather. The Island is isolated and the land barren. How is Rachel surviving outside of the compound and if she isn't-where is her body? The disappearance of Rachel is just the tip of the iceberg (pardon the Titanic pun!). All is not what it appears to be on the eerie Shutter Island and as Teddy and his fellow Marshall, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) delve further into the history and happenings of the place the lines between sanity and insanity become more and more blurred. Where is Rachel? Who or what is the enigmatic number 67 and what really happens inside that overbearing lighthouse?
When they categorized this film as psychological thriller they weren't kidding. This film is taxing, confusing but utterly brilliant. I think this has become one of my all time favourite and most recommended films...and I didn't even want to watch it to start with! If, like me, you have seen the trailers for this film you could be forgiven for thinking that this film was an outright horror movie. I can remember feeling 'freaked out' by the eerie trailers for this and decided there and then that it wasn't for me and it took some persuading to get me to sit down and watch it despite being told how much it suited my tastes. I do not like mindless horror movies but I adore psychological thrillers and I feel that the way in which this film was advertised means that it may have bypassed it's intended audience so if you like a psychological thriller, take my advice and watch this film...now if possible!
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Teddy Daniels) who isn't an actor I would go out of my way to watch however, all that has changed since seeing him in this and Inception. Leo's choice in roles has definitely matured and he was absolutely fantastic in this film. He had me completely absorbed. An outstanding performance and so far away from his Titanic days. However, it isn't just Leo who wowed me in this film, there are an awful lot of stand out performances. Ben Kingsley (Dr. Cawley) plays an excellent role, commanding the authority of a psychiatrist and creating an unnerving, eerie sensation in the audience that can only be associated with someone who has the capability of getting inside your head. Michelle Williams (Dolores) and Emily Mortimer (Rachel) fully embrace their challenging roles, Williams in particular is scarily comfortable in her disturbing role. Mark Ruffalo is also worth a mention, I found his performance rigid and fake to begin with but as the plot unfolded I realised just how well he was playing his character. The acting in this film is of such good calibre that even the 'bit parts' are fantastic. The orderlies and patients do an excellent job of creating a disturbing atmosphere.
As well as big name actors the film also had a big name director, Martin Scorsese. I'm not the sort of person who pays attention to films by any particular director but he did such a fantastic job on this film that I will be more aware of his work in the future. He did an excellent job of exploring the lines between sanity and insanity. The use of shadows and stormy weather to create atmosphere worked well- it appears that the sun never shines on Shutter Island. The grim setting and dramatic soundtrack builds great tension and the concept of not knowing what is real was represented well. The film is visually entertaining and had a fantastic screenplay (Laeta Kalogridis) but the credit goes to author Dennis Lehane for penning such a detailed and intricate storyline. I haven't yet read the book but after this film it has shot to the top of my must read list.
Overall I highly recommend this film. It isn't one to watch when you're tired because you do need to concentrate and even then you may still have many unanswered questions but that is the joy of this film. It explores the ethics of psychology with a gripping and fast paced storyline whilst allowing the audience to remain autonomous and draw their own conclusions. The best psychological thriller...EVER!
Are The Lunatics Running The Asylum?
Two US Marshalls are sent to an island that houses a mental institution where a patient has escaped from an apparently inescapable situation. How it's possible for a mental patient to hide on a small island is a complete mystery. It soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems. There's a lot more to this creepy place than meets the eye.
Shutter Island is a bit of a departure for Martin Scorsese, I think the last time he tried horror was Cape Fear. I usually like his work so had high hopes of a creepy film from him. I was left a little disappointed. When the screen went black and the credits rolled I said to my other half "What was that all about." Not because I didn't understand it, I just expected something more.
The film looks fantastic, very dark and brooding, you'd expect nothing less of Scorsese. I know the storm/hurricane is a cliché but it does look great. In some ways it reminded me of "The Ring", an excellent scary film. I did like the 50s styling too. There is some great use of CGI in some of the more surreal scenes.
Leonardo Di Caprio is good as protagonist Teddy Daniels, looking confused most of the time, like the audience. I'm not sure I'd say it's his best role but it does add another string to his bow, he's come on a lot from Titanic. I was surprised to see Ben Kingsley, always nice to see him, but it's not his meatiest role to say the least, he is of course excellent. Also good but underused is Mark Ruffalo as his US Marshall partner, who he has only just met.
There are numerous flashbacks to Daniels past life, most notably his wife and his harrowing experiences in WW2. Sometimes I feel they got in the way a bit, even though they were technically very good
I have a bit of a problem with the soundtrack, it's way too heavy handed. Every intense or creepy scene is flagged up with some psycho style strings. We get it, it's a creepy place. They have certainly not gone for subtlety.
The biggest problem for me is the predictability of the film, about half way through I'd guessed pretty accurately what was going on. So much so that I expected a second twist to happen at the end that never came. I understand that we're supposed to be left with some unanswered questions, but I don't think it did enough for this to work.
It's hard to believe this is from the same man who brought us Goodfellas. Sorry Martin, you've entertained me a lot in the past so can be forgiven for this one, but please do better in future. Perhaps a repeated viewing may help, but I have little inclination to do it. It's not all bad, it's a shame because it could have been so much more.
Main Cast List
Leonardo DiCaprio - Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo - Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley - Dr. John Cawley
Max Von Sydow - Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Directed By : Martin Scorsese
Running Time : 138 Minutes
Certificate : 15
I've recently watched shutter island and was that amazed by it i had to write a review on the film.
Shutter island is a film that is based on a book it is set in 1954 on Boston Harbour, where U.S Marshall Teddy Daniels is sent on a case of a missing woman on shutter island a large facility for the criminally insane. the film shows how he tries to uncover the truth of exactly what is going on in the island, is this all just a government cover up? you'll have to watch the film to find out. this is the first film id seen leonardo dicaprio in in a while and i must say hes still as good as ever. he really portrayed his character very well.
this film is one of those films you have to watch intently to get a grasp of whats really going on.there isnt really any special effects to comment on apart from the fight scenes which are really good. The plot of this film i thought was amazing because it kind of leaves you wondering about what the truth might actually be. the special effects in this film were also quite cool i thought and love the costumes in the film.
Shutter Island is rated a R for violent content and language and scenes of nudity. the runtime of this film is 138 minutes so its not too long. The film was wrote by Laeta Kalogridis and directed by Martin Scorsese. Id definitely reccomend that every watches this film as i was hooked within the first few moments of the film .
thank you for reading my review
this review is also posted on ciao
(Film only review)
I picked up 'Shutter Island' DVD from Ebay for £2.50 all inclusive, though it can also be picked up from Amazon for as little as £4.49. I have recently bought a few DVD's in the hope of making my DVD collection look a little more padded! I had seen previews of Shutter Island which appealed to me, even though I am not a great fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, though I thought I would give it a try anyway.
Shutter Island is set in 1954 which, at first, put me off a little as I am not too keen on old setting films either (goodness knows what made me want to see this with not liking the main actor or the setting year but oh well!). Marshal Teddy Daniels is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane set upon an island, and is presumed to be hiding somewhere nearby as there is no way she could have got off of the island.
Teddy arrives at the island with his partner, Chuck, and it is not long before they realise that things are not quite right on the island. Amongst all the drama and horror, Teddy has his own inner demons which start to spill out from his past, some of which are very confusing to him (and us). He realises that his investigation may have been engineered to get him on to the island, though when she tries to leave he realises that there are some places which never let you go.
It took a little while to get into the film, though once it got going it had me on the edge of my seat. The suspense mixed with elements of horror and thriller (more so thriller) really pull the audience in. Although I am not keen on DiCaprio, I have to admit that he was a huge step up from his time on board the Titanic all those years ago! I even forgot that I didn't like him as the story progressed with some great scenes and superb acting.
I have read a few reviews from people who felt the ending was a let down, though in my opinion, this was the best bit! It had me guessing the whole time and the twist was unforeseen and exciting which left me wanting more even after the credits had rolled and gone.
The cast includes;
Leonardo DiCaprio... Teddy Daniels
Ben Kingsley... Dr. John Cawley
Mark Ruffalo... Chuck Aule
Ted Levine... Warden
Jackie Earle Haley... George Noyce
John Carroll Lynch... Deputy Warden McPherson
Emily Mortimer... Rachel 1
Patricia Clarkson.. Rachel 2
Max von Sydow... Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Michelle Williams... Dolores Chanal
Elias Koteas... Laeddis
Robin Bartlett... Bridget Kearns
Christopher Denham... Peter Breene
Nellie Sciutto... Nurse Marino
Joseph Sikora... Glen Miga
I fully recommend seeing this film if you are a fan of mystery and thriller as it keeps you entertained nearly from start to finish.
Boston, 1954: U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) head to Shutter Island and its infamous psychiatric hospital to investigate the disappearance of a dangerous female patient. Suspicious of head doctors Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and Naehring (Max von Sydow), Daniels delves deep into the hospital's past, uncovering potentially devastating secrets, but not before experiencing some ever-more disturbing hallucinations.
The first third of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island had me convinced that I was watching one of the director's outright best. His directing had become a little bland lately - as good as his work was in the last decade, my personal favourite The Aviator included, there wasn't much up to the standards of Taxi Driver that really made me sit up and think "what a great piece of camerawork." With Shutter Island, I was already thinking that within the first five minutes.
In terms of what he does with his camera, this is most definitely the strongest Scorsese has been since Goodfellas. Shutter Island has a charged energy amiss from the director's recent output and it seems the change of tack, stepping into the realm of the horror genre, has urged Marty to try new things. There is some work here that is experimental not just for the mainstream, but for Scorsese, too - one straightforward dialogue scene is shot behind a veil of fire, blinding flames constantly licking at the actors' faces, and our eyes, for a whole ten minutes. It's odd, that and plenty of other moments in this film, but it works, and it's fantastic to see a director continue to try new things so far into his career.
There is also one fine cast here. Ben Kingsley wisely keeps himself restrained for a change, as the sinister Dr. Cawley, and produces his best work in ages. Elsewhere, the underrated Mark Ruffalo is as good as ever, Max von Sydow is terrifying even when he isn't doing anything, and the supporting repertoire of possibly real, possibly imaginary people played by Jackie Earle Haley, Elias Koteas, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Michelle Williams are all worryingly convincing at being unbalanced.
And, as is now standard, DiCaprio develops his acting skills in front of our eyes once again. Whereas most actors arrive fully-formed, with performances throughout their career yo-yoing in quality, it's been a strange thing to see DiCaprio grow as a performer on screen, improving on his performances with each subsequent film. Compare him in Shutter Island - wait for the last third to really be blown away - with the over-acting tendencies he displayed on something like Titanic, and you'll see just how far the man has come.
Unfortunately, after a first class set up, with Scorsese dropping us headfirst into an intriguing mystery thriller, our interest in Shutter Island begins to lag slightly somewhere around the halfway mark. No high calibre acting or outstanding camerawork can carry a film entirely - there must be a decent script around which the cast and crew can flourish - and Laeta Kalogridis' screenplay is simply too lacklustre.
There is little character development outside of the main protagonist and many of the dialogue scenes are far too exposition-heavy. This is highlighted best in a lengthy conversation scene between DiCaprio and Clarkson - without the bravura camerawork to fall back on, Kalogridis' pedestrian script quickly becomes tiring, and it's obvious just how reliant the film is on Scorsese to keep things exciting. With a number of drawn out one-on-one discussions taking place midway through the film, this is exactly where Shutter Island begins to drag. The acting remains stellar, but it takes a true pair of master performers to make reams of endless exposition interesting.
It's in many of those scenes that Scorsese's long-time editing partner, Thelma Schoonmaker, should have intervened. The Oscar-winning editor worked wonders on films like Raging Bull; surely she could have trimmed some of Shutter Island's more pointless dialogue scenes to bring it down from its far too-long 138 minute running time?
What is most remarkable about Shutter Island is how well the film has gone down with audiences, drawing in the biggest crowds of Scorsese's career. It won't be easy to digest for most cinemagoers - the scenes of reality and fantasy are increasingly hard to differentiate, the characters are mostly unsympathetic ciphers while the dream sequences, especially those set in Dachau concentration camp, are more than mildly distressing. Those seeking their horror fix (horror by today's predictable standards, anyway) will be disappointed, too - Shutter Island isn't clear-cut scary, but creepy, ominous and full of dread.
And 'dread' is really the key word here, as Scorsese lays it on thick. Right from the opening, in which we see Daniels violently vomiting in the bathroom of the ship towing him and his partner through a dense fog to Shutter Island, the film proves to be some kind of masterclass in creating unease. Shutter Island is one of the few films where it would be a compliment to call it the most dreadful one of the year.
Without giving anything away, Shutter Island doesn't deserve but require more viewings. The plot is such a pleasurable riddle, I know I will be seeing it at least one more time just to make sense of it all. But there is so much more to recommend it other than the story - the performances are superb, the musical score (arranged by Robbie Robertson) is suitably unsettling and, if you're a Scorsese fan, you have to see what he does on his first foray into horror.
That said, it's no masterpiece - although it will be remembered as a film that featured some of Scorsese's best work, Shutter Island won't be remembered as one of his best. It's too long and lazily written, but manages to remain an intriguing and often horrifying mystery thriller. However, the biggest mystery is still unsolved - if you're Martin Scorsese, surely every screenwriter in Hollywood is lining up to work with you, so why choose the scripter behind Pathfinder and Oliver Stone's Alexander to write your movie?
Shutter Island is a psychological drama set in 1954 & it was filmed in 2010.
It revolves around a US Federal Marshal, Teddy Daniels (The beautiful Leonardo!), who goes to a mysteriosly isolated island with his partner, Chuck, also a federal marshal, to investigate the escape of a mental patient, Rachel Solando; a disturbed woman convicted of drowning her three children and living in an alternate reality. It seems she smply 'vanished', with all doors locked and only a note consisting of seemingly random numbers left behind.
The mental home, which is secure to the point of bein a prison, is run by Dr. John Cawley, who Teddy believes is experimenting with the patients via drugs and treatment techniques. He is easily dislikeable to most of the audience and it's easy to believe that teddy's beliefs are correct. But all isn't as it seems.
In the first half an hour or so, the film focuses on the mystery aspect, showing Teddy and Chuck searching for the escapee and interrogating other patients, all of whom seem oddly familiar with Teddy.
We then start learning more about Teddy and his past traumas, during his flashbacks to his violent World War 2 experiences. This is where it starts to get more like a horror slash mystery movie than a drama.
Teddy soon realises that the asylum for the criminally insane may have some darker secrets than he first thought, and begins to expect that the disappearance of Rachel Solando may actually be part of a bigger conspiracy. Displaying signs of paranoia and confusion, he seems somewhat desperate to prove himself by finding her, and finding the truth, while battling with his own personal demons.
The ending is a huge shock, with you wondering what's real and what's not, who's lieing and who's the goodie and who's the baddie.
It's worth a watch, even with some slightly disturbing scenes, the strong plot pulls it all together and makes you want to watch it again.
Shutter Island is a very interesting suspense film, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leo DiCaprio it is set in 1950's America and has echo's of some of the great films of that era.
To call it a horror film wouldn't be realistic, this is a thriller or suspense film, it has shocks and some horrific moments but more due to the ideas portrayed than any real sense of fear.
The film begins with U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) arriving on an island off the coast of Boston, we are informed that this is Shutter Island an island with a civil war era fort and no form of escape other than via the Port. Nowadays the island is a home and prison for the criminally insane.
Teddy and Chuck have been sent to the island to investigate the disappearance of a woman who murdered her children. (Emily Mortimer). Her disappearance is a puzzle, as escape seems impossible, however as the marshals discover, there is something not right about the island, Teddy in particular is troubled by what he sees, particularly in the psychiatrists Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow)
As the story develops it is clear that Teddy has his own demons spilling over from his past, in a deceased wife and his own experiences in liberating concentration camps in Germany. As the film develops it is clear that Teddy believes something is going on in the prison and has perhaps even engineered the visit to the island to seek resolution to some issues from his past, but the story is much more complex than this and as Scorsese builds the story, the twists move your brain into areas it really doesn't want to go, until you are confused as to what is real and what isn't.
Leonardo DiCaprio... Teddy Daniels
Ben Kingsley... Dr. John Cawley
Mark Ruffalo... Chuck Aule
Ted Levine... Warden
Jackie Earle Haley... George Noyce
John Carroll Lynch... Deputy Warden McPherson
Emily Mortimer... Rachel 1
Patricia Clarkson.. Rachel 2
Max von Sydow... Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Michelle Williams... Dolores Chanal
Elias Koteas... Laeddis
Robin Bartlett... Bridget Kearns
Christopher Denham... Peter Breene
Nellie Sciutto... Nurse Marino
Joseph Sikora... Glen Miga
As with any Scorsese film, the cast is excellent and really do have some leeway to develop their roles, DiCaprio really enjoys losing himself in the complex and damaged Teddy, his character develops interestingly as we learn more about his past and the experiences that have shaped his reason for visiting the island, as the story unfolds, his character develops even more interesting traits which are worth concentrating on, but forgive the accent which is off putting and at times comedic. Mark Ruffalo also enjoys his role, he plays straight man as Teddy's assistant, but is quite often the sane balance to the more aggressive counter point of his boss, his calmness is useful for the viewer in gauging how far Teddy is going in his immersion in this strange world, but is there more to him than meets the eye?
Ben Kingsley is ok as the chief psychiatrist, at times he seems like a caricature of an evil doctor at others he seems to be a man with a real love of his work, which is he, unfortunately, some of the posturing and over-exaggeration pushes him into B-Movie territory, Max Von Sydow is much better as a German psychiatrist, who Teddy firmly believes to be an ex-Nazi, he is genuinely intriguing and disturbing in the role. Emily Mortimer has a small part, whilst Michelle Williams recurs in a disturbing manner as Teddy's dead wife.
Scorsese enjoys himself with this film, he wears his influences on his sleeve too, the rainy cliff tops and music recall Hitchcock, the story in some ways recalls 'The Shining' whilst the director takes great delight in wearing the films 'Film Noir' credentials on it's sleeve. The outfits are 50's gumshoe, the air of something sinister underlying the film is prevalent throughout whilst the demons of our hero are genuine and disturbing, as the film progresses, Scorsese masterfully guides us into a confusing, temporarily satisfying and then ultimately slightly disturbing ending, he relishes the build up and the visuals are as important as the acting in many senses, we have the doors being blown open by wind, the sinister looks of psychiatrists and the obligatory note from a patient simply stating 'RUN'.
It is fun to watch this all-time great director enjoy himself with this twisting story, however while it's a film that looks good and does keep your attention, the story ultimately lets it down, there are twists and there are some good ideas, but it gets lost up its own bum at points and tries too hard to be mysterious and worthy, meaning the plot loses its edge and feels made up and overblown.
I liked the story, in the first 5 minutes as the boat headed into port, I felt that it seemed cheesy and clichéd, I felt similar feelings throughout the film and yet enjoyed it, the characters do develop sufficiently for you to care, there are enough blindsides and twists to keep you interested and it looks good too, the film is dark in tone, content and visuals, there are lots of scenes in dank prison cells and images of concentration camps to ensure you won't come out of this film with a big grin on your face.
The film is ultimately a little bit of a let down and not one of Scorsese's best, it is big budget with a big cast, but the plot seems to have followed the recent trend for making big budget impressions of fifties b-movies (Grindhouse, Planet Terror), whilst this is based more on the film noir element of that era and the story wants to be complex, it lacks a couple of threads which could have made it really good, without them it's a good film with a few crucial misses in the plot, it's a 3 out of 5 film unfortunately but definitely worth a watch as there are plenty of really good things going on.
At times I felt the film was going splendidly and the story had amazing potential, but the ending was a bit M Night Shylaman for my liking and ultimately unfulfilling and felt like a missed opportunity.
The film is available for £4.99 on Play, we thankfully rented through Lovefilm, it is currently £19.99 on Amazon which is a misprice surely. We weren't sufficiently interested in the film to bother watching the DVD extras so I can't comment on these.
The moment Teddy meets George Noyce and his world begins to collapse.
Every casual filmgoer knows that Martin Scorsese has created a number of breathtaking masterpieces throughout his career as a director. The problem, then, with the standards so high, is that his "sub-par" films may get criticized unfairly when they are compared to the likes of The Departed, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, etc. I've been reading and hearing lots of critics saying Shutter Island was a rather dissatisfying experience. Granted, this isn't the best thing Scorsese has ever done, but it's still a fascinating, gripping and at times confusing psychological thriller that demands to be seen.
Based on Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name, the film follows U.S. marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his newly-appointed partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) as they visit a remote institution for the criminally insane. The two have been summoned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient named Rachel Solando, and proceed to question the staff on the island so that they can get to the bottom of what's really gone on. Without wanting to spoil anything (this is a really tough film to talk about without giving something away), Shutter Island goes on to examine the themes of paranoia, alienation and identity in amongst a very dark and morbid atmosphere, which results in terribly disturbing and engrossing viewing.
You'll notice from the off that Scorsese deliberately tries to emulate the over-the-top style seen in many classic thriller-horror movies that came before (the director's own Cape Fear immediately springs to mind, which was already a homage to the Hollywood film noirs of the '50s). The flashbacks that depict Teddy's traumas, for example, are far from subtle: Scorsese seems fascinated with portraying the character's post-traumatic shock syndrome from his war-time experiences in graphic detail for all to see, which can be deeply unsettling, yet mesmerizing at the same time. Shutter Island is certainly visually imaginative in its scenes involving Teddy's late wife (Michelle Williams), also: Surrounded by flames and with heavy rain coming down, we see him holding Dolores close until she begins to bleed from the stomach and dissolve into ashes. Very striking.
These scenes are a strong feature of the film as they take us deeper into the mindstate of Teddy, allowing us to sympathise with his turmoil and root for him in his quest to uncover the truth. It's his job, as well as ours, to figure out whether he's an actual detective, or a patient on Shutter Island. Lehane's novel and Laeta Kalogridis's screenwriting are intelligent to the point that they manage to create a space between unreality and reality by presenting a series of mind-boggling experiences that we must interpret as one or the other for ourselves. Even the fascinating ending won't offer any immediate clarification to what Teddy has just experienced before his/our eyes, though; Shutter Island is a film you'll need to watch a few times over if you wish to achieve some form of clarity (even then, I can imagine, they'll be no definite conclusion).
Every moment is fuelled with a fiery cynicism. When one of the characters preaches "God loves violence! Why else would there be so much of it?" past mid-point of the film, we don't argue. The dark and morbid atmosphere, which is masterfully developed by Scorsese and cinematographer Robert Richardson, aided also by the classical score, is truly haunting to the point that it feels claustrophobic. Shutter Island purposely gets inside our heads to depict the threatening environment that DiCaprio's character has become involved in. When I left the cinema, I'll admit that I felt incredibly traumatised by what I had just seen.
In regards to the acting, I was never that big a fan of DiCaprio to begin with, but he seems to be getting more impressive with each film. Teddy is a very well-written character, but the actor gives plenty of heart to his crumbling mentality; the madness begins in his head, but we notice that it is slowly eating its way to his core. It's an impressive performance from DiCaprio, whom has been taken under the wing of Scorsese for their fourth collaboration here; he may not be on the level of Robert De Niro (the director's first partner in film) as yet, but he's unquestionably maturing evermore as an actor. Scorsese also gets excellent support from a cast including Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), Dr. Naehring (Max Von Sydow) and Deputy Warden McPherson (John Carroll Lynch). Furthermore, Michelle Williams does a great job at evoking the emotions of her on-screen husband.
In conclusion, "The rat stuck in a maze" premise may not appear as anything new, but Scorsese has a wonderful knack for elevating the material beyond the usual to create an incredibly engaging piece of work. Shutter Island not only looks fantastic, but is uncommonly hypnotic in its fascination with mental illness: In witnessing the psychological torture of the lead character, we are made to contemplate the subject for ourselves and appreciate the seemingly-daunting complexity of our own minds. Despite being almost two-and-a-half hours long, the film is adroitly paced, suspenseful and very well-cast.
With such considered, it just goes to show that even the "lesser" Scorsese stuff has a profound effect upon the mind of the viewer. On a personal level, I cherish my experience of this film, and the more I think about it, the more I want to see it again.
(C) Andy Carrington, 2010.
Having only seen a brief trailer for Shutter Island before visiting the local cinema, it was difficult to know what to expect. All I can say was that I was very pleasantly surprised.
Without giving too much away, Leonardo Di Caprio, in quite an inspired role, plays a police officer who visits a high security hospital for the criminally insane on an island as one of the patients has escaped, hence the film title, Shutter Island. However, there is more to the island than meets the eye and many hidden depths that Teddy Daniels (Di Caprio) could have expected.
We later find that Daniels has taken the case on the island for a personal reason and in the midst of a hurricane when more patients begin to escape, the clues start to multiply and things start to become ever clearer and Teddy begins to doubt everything including his own sanity
For me, this is one of Martin Scorcese's best films in recent years. Leonardo Di Caprio and Ben Kingsley are both superb in their roles and everything fits together perfectly. There is lots to think about amongst some good action and it's definitely a film to get the brain ticking. All the characters are developed brilliantly throughout the film.
All in all, very enjoyable and I would highly recommend
It's 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) arrives at Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island with his newly assigned partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient who has apparently escaped from a locked room leaving a mysterious note behind. Daniels meets Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the head psychiatrist, who seems amenable enough, but it isn't long before the two will clash. Harbouring deep psychological problems of his own due to his experiences during World War II and the tragic loss of his wife two years previously, Daniels begins to probe deep into a dark conspiracy he believes is at the heart of the institution...
Perhaps there is a generation gap thing going on here. The ending of "Shutter Island" seemed quite straightforward and unambiguous to my wife and I. However, I heard from two independent sources, both much younger than me, that this was far from the case. Both of them told me -without spoiling the film - the ending left you questioning what had really happened with the lead protagonist. A little perplexed by this, I consulted several online resources both of which confirmed my original assumption. The end of the film has a big enough twist without throwing in anything else to catch the audience out - in fact, the thought of it would probably cheapen the whole viewing experience. Nevertheless, there is clearly something in Scorsese's entertaining post-war period psychological mystery that got some of its viewers into a constant state of mistrust. As a fun tool for sceptical psychology - and without giving too much of the game away - "Shutter Island" provides us with an insight into the mind of a conspiracy theorist.
I will admit it now. I have been very slow in coming round to acknowledging Leonardo DiCaprio's ability as a serious actor. There's no real excuse for this and I put it down to a certain undetected prejudice. The guy has down his Hollywood schmaltz, but I bear no grudge to the very talented Ms Winslet and the wizard that is James Cameron for "Titanic". Maybe it is his politicizing that gets on my nerves, but I don't give George Clooney any stick for this or even Tom Cruise for his very weird beliefs. Anyway, these aspects should be separated from their work. As much as it oddly pains me to admit, Leonardo DiCaprio has stumped up a rather impressive resume of serious acting work, which started early with his memorable performance in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". I guess it all comes down to the well-known rational argument that trumps all other evidence - he's just got one of those faces you feel compelled to slap!
Okay, confession time over and I have to shamefully concede with my stepdaughter's verdict it gives a great all round performance, even standing his own against the titan of acting that is Sir Ben Kingsley (I never get bored watching that bloke get his teeth into a role). However, this is to take nothing away from Martin Scorsese. Since he kicked Robert de Niro out of bed, it seems that the man who is often considered to be one of the best actors alive has gradually descended into "cheque please" performances comparable with his most obvious predecessors, Messes Welles and Brando. Despite putting in some fine performances here and there, "Ronin" for example, few would argue his best work can be found during the Scorsese era. By contrast, Scorsese - who fiercely admonished one interviewer for complimenting him with the moniker "Hollywood director" - has not shown any signs of compromising his artistic integrity. It would appear that his new marriage to DiCaprio is proving to be a very happy one.
"Shutter Island" is a surprisingly restrained thriller that is a near perfect example of how to build momentum. This really is the mark of a good director. Of course, a strong writer can try to convey this in their original work or in a screenplay, but it is the director who knows how the scenes will run as if they were notes on a music sheet. It really is a case of it's not what you do, it's the way that you do it and here Scorsese has to take the lion's share of the praise. Over the past few months I have watched two other excellent mystery thrillers that have better twists than "Shutter Island" and yet cannot match this for sheer execution. The horror "Orphan" has one of the best concealed twists I have seen since "Psycho" and yet for all its merits, including outstanding performances from the trio of child actors, it is little more than a simplistic "cuckoo thriller"*. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has a far cleverer twist than "Shutter Island" and I prefer the film, but as justified as the sporadic structure of the film is, it lacks Scorsese's smoothness. This flow gradually builds as revelation after revelation occurs along with the building sense of peril. It's classic Hitchcock referencing, which was Scorsese's intention. This is re-imagined film noir with a smattering of 1940s horror. The subject matter is psychology and the abnormalities of the mind, so therefore it is befitting that this is a psychological thriller in its purest form and you find yourself being drawn into the mind of the film's hero as easily as he seems to slip deeper into danger that seemingly surrounds him.
Reviews have been mixed amongst professional critics, but I don't know anyone who has seen it and wasn't entertained. Mind you, these people tend to be a generation who haven't seen much Hitchcock. There is a certain emotional depth missing, even with Teddy Daniels' past demons and motivations being at the film's heart. You get the feel that when they adapted Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel, Laeta Kalogridis and Steven Knight were playing dice in the way they contrasted the mentally complex hero with largely two dimensional supporting characters.
The film's main weakness lies in certain visual continuity flaws, which don't seem to be intended. I could be wrong given the later revelations, but I doubt it. Check out the scene where Teddy interviews the patient Noyce. The camera angle from the front of Noyce does not correspond with what is going on from the rear. It's quite an obvious flaw, so one might argue that it is down to "artistic expression" and if you look online you will see that general continuity for this film is a hot debate. In fact, continuity is a regular complaint against Scorsese.
In conclusion "Shutter Island" is another good issue from the Scorsese/DiCaprio partnership. It's an interesting story - recreating the film noir with affection - and moves at a skilfully crafted pace complimented by a great lead performance.
*Apparently a term I have coined - debate.
This is an excellent Movie one of the best i've seen for a while. I thought it was going to be a scary or a jumpy film, but I was mistaken. It turnt out to be a bit sad actually, not a tear jerker but it was quite sad. There are a few disturbing scenes in the film, there is a man with a slightly disfigured face at one point, and there are scenes with dead bodies and blood in them. If you are a Di Caprio fan you will love this movie as both Leo and Ben Kingsly play equally great parts in the story. There is lots of twists that keep you thinking, and you begin to wonder who can be trusted and keep changing your mind. I had to watch this 2 times to fully understand everything, and to make sense of the ending. If you take your eyes off the screen for a few minutes you will have missed a lot, you need to pay full attention or you may miss a key part of the story. I would most definately reccomend you watch this, quite possibly the best film of 2010.
Id like to say like most film buffs, I like to think I know what im talking about most of the time. When I first read Scorsese was filming a thriller/mild horror I was certain it wouldnt be good. Scorsese; as good as he is should stick to crime thrillers....I was wrong. Wow what a film, I think it started rather slowly, intriging though it was. The ending (which I will not spoil) has an infuriatingly clever twist. It makes me want to buy the book for more insight and had me and my g/friend talking about it for half an hour afterward. The casting compliments the direction. Dicaprio is one of those actors that just gets better and better....many people have mentioned inception and the obvious connection between a lost wife in the two films, both mentally ill. but this doesnt detract from fantastic performances from Emily mortimer, who looks way too innocent to play the character she does, but who (with the exception of disney`s the kid) always turns out a good pick. I last saw mark ruffalo (teddys marshal partner chuck) in collateral, he was excelent in both roles. His laid back light hearted mannerisms compliments dicaprios confused and erratic teddy daniels well. Ben kingsley is predictably sincere and suspicous as the warden doctor, as is max von sydow who pulls out a samey performance as he did in minority report as the bumbling old man no one could possibly suspect was up to no good. But both produce the sort of calibre of acting calibre you would expect from masters in their craft.
Full marks Martin and his casting crew- hang up the gangster films now, please do more thrillers !!
Some say this is better (and more mind twisting) than Inception. I like psycho thrillers and Leonardo DiCaprio's recent films have been good, so I decided to give this one a go.
~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are marshals who go to Shutter Island to investigate a mysterious disappearance of a murderess Rachel Solando, a patient of the famous Ashecliffe hospital for the criminally insane.
Teddy reveals to Chuck that he is on the island for another reason. Having heard about inhumane experiments that are being conducted at Ashecliffe, he decides to expose the hospital for what it really is when he returns to the mainland; but when Rachel Solando mysteriously reappears, Teddy questions whether it was all a trap to prevent him leaving the island and exposing the truth.
The initial idea of the disappearance of a murderess is already quite gripping, along with the fact that it's on an isolated island with no escape and set in an asylum. I was preparing myself to be quite scared! I have to say the beginning of the movie was quite confusing and there were lots of questions that needed to be answered.
The movie soon focused not on the disappearance of the murderess, as she was mysteriously found, but onto Teddy's own investigation on Ashecliffe. As the clues all point to them trying to keep him on the island and as people revealed new information to him, I too questioned his reality and if he was just a pawn in a big game.
I was quite shocked at the ending. I thought it could turn out one of two ways: he manages to escape and expose the truth or he would be committed into Ashecliffe as insane to prevent him leaving, but definitely not this!! When the truth is revealed, the whole film seems to make sense and you will go "OHHHH". I love the quote: "Is it better to live as a monster or die a good man?" which shows how our psychological well being may define our humanity.
Leonardo DiCaprio - Teddy Daniels
Michelle Williams- Dolores Chanal
Mark Ruffalo- Chuck Aule
Also stars Ben Kingsley (Dr Cawley) and Emily Mortimer.
I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic and genuine. Surprised to see Emily Mortimer here playing such an intense role having previously seen her in "Match Point", who also does a good job.
Overall, Shutter Island is an intense movie that will have you questioning its reality and what is really going on, with an unpredictable twist that will shock you. Leonardo DiCaprio does a good job as does Emily Mortimer, both roles being quite intense.
Whilst Shutter Island offered more of a resolve but was a confusing roller coaster ride, Inception provided an understandable concept but cut deliberately at the final few seconds to leave people baffled and talking. In this way, Inception was perhaps more to be enjoyed, Shutter Island to be admired. Both are outstanding films.
The movie can be purchased for around £5 online