Is there a name more synonymous with brilliant film-making than that of Martin Scorsese? Throughout his expansive career, he’s directed several classics such as “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull.” Most of these films contain common themes such as the struggles of Italian Americans and Roman Catholicism. However, Scorsese’s latest work, “Shutter Island,” does not hold water when compared to the greats of his filmography, but his follow-up to the music documentary “Shine a Light” is still an engrossing psychological thriller that benefits not only from an unrestrained direction by Scorsese but also by a range of excellent performances.
The increasingly haunting and captivating plot of “Shutter Island” starts quite simply as U.S. marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are assigned to a case involving the mysterious disappearance of a psych ward patient from Boston’s Ashecliffe Hospital. Leaving no trace of evidence other than a note suggesting the existence of an unknown 67th patient, Teddy and Chuck investigate the mental institution oblivious of the fact that they’ve tangled themselves up in an increasingly dark reality as allegations of illegal and sinister treatments and a hurricane disables communications ensure that the case doesn’t go according to plan.
“Shutter Island” is a homage to classic noirs, but unlike other such “homages,” it doesn’t shamelessly steal from these classics, but instead illuminates the relevancy of these films. That being said, Teddy is also a homage to classic noir protagonists. He is not indestructible and enters the asylum with a personal agenda. He seeks his wife’s alleged murderer and uses unorthodox methods of investigation in order to find him.
Symbolism is a key element in “Shutter Island.” Scorsese abandons his usually explicit direction and instead focuses on flashbacks to reflect on Teddy’s character and his past as an American soldier during WWII. These flashbacks flow and work surprisingly well and this shows Scorsese’s wide array of directorial talents.
However, this creative freedom is sure to stir a mixed reaction from Scorsese’s fanatics. Some may appreciate the newly explored themes of “Shutter Island” but those expecting a movie superior to his magnum opus “Goodfellas” or even “The Departed” are sure to be disappointed.
Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are considered to be a dynamic duo. DiCaprio starred in a number of collaborations with the acclaimed director and there is a simple reason behind this; DiCaprio is a reliable actor and for a director of Scorsese’s caliber, this is of shear important — especially when casting a lead. As Teddy, DiCaprio does no disappoint and adds an organic feel to character even through the increasingly implausible hullabaloo of the plot.
Though he is not one of my favorite actors, Mark Ruffalo does an equally good job at portraying Teddy’s new partner and thus adds a realistic chemistry between the two characters. Other memorable performances include Ben Kingsley as Dr. Cawley, Max von Sydow as Dr. Naehring, and Michelle Williams as Dolores. Jackie Earle Haley, who made a name for himself playing Rorschach in “Watchmen,” also lends a brief performance as George Noyce.
Perhaps the most flawed element of “Shutter Island” is the script. Laeta Kalogridis does a passable job at adapting the Dennis Lehane novel to the big-screen but occasionally trips on poor attempts at humor. These slip-ups produce lines that are not only terrible but also quite memorable and this is damning for any sort of film but especially for a film directed by Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese explores new ground in “Shutter Island” and does an excellent job and though it’s not as good as his critically-acclaimed works, it still constitutes running to the theater to see it and fans of the noir genre are not to be disappointed.
Source: Trailer Addict
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