Based on the bestselling novel by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island reunites Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese in their first film together since The Departed and, along with Gangs of New York and The Aviator, their fourth collaboration total. Both films were big successes, one earning Best Picture nomination and the other winning the Oscar. The first two adaptations of Lehane novels, Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, both critically praised and won numerous awards, including two for Mystic River.
Going into Shutter Island, I had high expectations. How can you not with Scorsese at the helm? One of the most influential directors of all time, he knows what he's doing and the best way to do it. Though I'm not the biggest fan of DiCaprio, he has surprised me several times with films like The Aviator and Catch Me If You Can. He can definitely pull a performance out of nowhere, WHICH HE CERTAINLY DID FOR THIS, as did Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley.
The film's opening theme, based around a single note, gave off the feel the theme from Jaws did as I watched. It's a grave tone. There are other notes used, ascending and descending to emphasize the central sound that sends chills down your spine. You hear retching from Teddy, DiCaprio's character, the sound of water beating against something and the sound of a bell. You immediately know you're on a boat and you're a little uncomfortable.
DiCaprio and Ruffalo play two federal officers called to an island for the criminally insane in order to find one the "patients" who has gone missing. (Kingsley's character, the hospital's chief physician Dr. John Cawley, despises the term "prisoners".) They ask questions that are either left unanswered or given open ended responses. I like when they examine Mrs. Kerns.
"You seem more normal than the others around here."---Teddy
"Well, we all have our dark days. Most people don't kill their husbands with axes though."
There was a bit of laughter around the audience when that was said. There are several moments of that, just random moments with rather dark humor in them. It comes mostly from the bizarre dialogue mixed throughout the film that seem to bring a little light to the storyline.
The use of flashbacks in DiCaprio's past creep you out. Much of his past plays into the storyline and can throw you off if you're not careful. There are several moments where I would watch it, see a flashback, and be so caught up in the flashback I had trouble understand what was going on. The imagery is so vivid yet blurry during the flashbacks it can be terrifying. The cinematography is unnerving at times and powerful enough on its own to scare you. The bizarre blue lighting that seems to follow everything. Very well done.
This seemed so unlike something Scorcese would do but with the powerful reputation he has built, he has never ceased to surprise. It didn't give off the feel of a genre horror film. Nobody just randomly goes off by themselves. If they are alone, it happens by accident or within the plot. The story is DEFINITELY scary though, so don't be confused about that. It's a constant game, pushing back and forth from one thing to the next, messing with everything you know. You try to figure out what's going on and just when you think you've figured it out, it gets all messed up again.
The ending was rather bittersweet for me. I'm not gonna reveal what happens because it's a BIG shocker, but it didn't really do a lot for me. "Whoa!" was the first thing that came to mind, followed closely by "wait, what?" It's a great twist in terms of being able to see it coming. There's very little foreshadowing actually, but then again you see it and you feel kind of cheated at the same time. I wasn't happy with it, while several others in the theater loved it a great deal.
In my opinion, this is definitely a movie you wanna go see. Scorsese did a great job directing it. The ending isn't the best in the world and actually is different from that of the book, but still catches you off guard and makes the film worth seeing! Go check it out.
"Once you're declared insane..."