Hey, everyone! Did you hear the news? Martin Scorsese finally made a really good movie. All I can say is, it’s about time. But seriously, folks, you would think that after so many hits, Scorsese would be due for a real stinker. A movie that’s so predictable and contrived that you leave wishing you’d spent your hard-earned money on Miley Cyrus in I Want it Back. But no, it just hasn’t happened. Some of you may disagree and claim that Bringing Out the Dead with Nicholas Cage fits into this category. Of course, you’d be wrong.
Shutter Island is an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo play federal marshals who are sent to investigate the disappearance of an inmate at a secluded psychiatric facility. Once there, they slowly begin to realize that the purpose of their visit may not be what it seems, and dare I say, nefarious?
Leonardo DiCaprio is to Martin Scorsese what Robert De Niro is to Martin Scorsese. This is the fourth movie the two have made together, and it’s really no surprise why Scorsese likes working with him. He’s a good actor. So much so that thinking of how we used to equate him to Jonathan Taylor Thomas back before his Titanic days just seems silly now. His performance as Teddy Daniels leaves you wondering whether or not he’s the one losing his mind all the way to the end of the film. And while the rest of the cast performes admirably, DiCaprio is the film’s shining star.
Mark Ruffalo as DiCaprio’s partner Chuck Aule and Max von Sydow as the mysterious Dr. Naehring are both welcome additions to the cast, but the roles they play don’t exactly allow them to spread their wings and fly. It was nice however to see Ben Kingsley in a good movie again, rather than some of the garbage he’s been in lately.
The film’s got all the hallmarks of other Scorsese greats. Low camera angles and diffused light really bring parts of this picture to life and show DiCaprio coming undone. While several of the film’s loud gotcha! moments fall a little flat, you’re so drawn into things that you don’t notice it much. At almost two and half hours, you won’t find yourself checking your phone to see what time it is. Well, unless you’re one of those bastard kids who always sits in front of me.
I’ve heard people talking about the movie’s ending. If it’s not a surprise, then people say there was a lot of build-up and ultimately no payoff. If it is a surprise, then people say it wasn’t really because they saw it coming from a mile away. Whether or not you — the naive moviegoer — enjoy it will be entirely due to personal preference, so there’s not a lot I can say about it.
What I can say is that Shutter Island is a film that’s got the entire package. You can look at other movies like this month’s Wolfman and point to things that really could have been handled better. And I do think there’s a difference between personal preferences of what you like and dislike and things that truly could have been done differently. There will be people who don’t like this movie’s ending, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good or that it could have been done any better. If the end of the movie had shown DiCaprio kicking down the doors to Ben Kingsley’s office and saying, “That’s it! We’re shuttering down this island! Hehe! Cuff ’em, Chuck,” then you could say that it could have been better handled. But as it is that isn’t the case. Basically all this distills down to the argument that there are too many people out there who don’t recognize good movies when they see them. Film snobbery? Perhaps. True anyway? Definitely.
Shutter Island is a great blend of noir and psychological thriller. It was a film that I found disturbing and heartwrenching and in the end very appealing. Remember in Gangs of New York, Brendan Gleeson’s big club that he marked notches on every time he smashed someone’s head in? Well, this film is just another notch in Martin Scorsese’s big club, and a testament to what a great director he is. While others lose their fire and do things like launch Indiana Jones through the sky in a refrigerator (seriously, WTF?), he’s still pumping out hits. And if they’re half as good as this one, he can keep them coming. A