Shutter Island

They’ve done it again; Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have come together again for a sixth time to create Shutter Island. In previous movies starring Dicaprio, directed by Scorsese such as; Gangs of New York and The Departed, compelling acting was displayed. However, the latest production from the dynamic duo could be the best yet. This movie takes the audience back to a time when films were not just money makers, but pieces of art. Paramount whether intended or not has elevated the bar for the modern movie; by combining a twisted plot in which the audience is kept guessing, believable and organic acting, and production design which we have not seen in ages. A personal thank you for the refreshing change from the popular yet shallow action movie to a deep drama that reminds this movie goer of a Hitchcock storyline.

Adapted from a novel by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island explores Ashcliffe, a mental institution for the criminally insane. Before seeing the film, I read the book and was quite surprised by how the plot was resolved, which is consistent in both the book and movie. The only discrepancy between book and film, which I was saddened not to see onscreen was the discovery of clues which lead to codes, which Teddy Daniels played by Leonardo DiCaprio had to break. In one chapter, Daniels and partner Chuck, played by Mark Ruffalo in the movie, involved small piles of rocks which somehow equaled letters. It was the details and the intricacies which aid to the construction of a grand fantasy and illusion of not only Teddy Daniels, but also the audience.

In some movies the audience is given more information than the main character, which can be exciting to watch and see them react. However, in my most humble opinion, this is unsatisfying. I enjoy movies like Momento and more famously Sixth Sense where we, the audience, are riding alongside the characters. This ploy can be difficult to construct, but when done well, it really excites the audience. Shutter Island plays a game of cat and mouse, similar to how Hitchcock revealed information in his films. The audience is let in on subtle hints as the movie goes on, and if you pay careful attention, you might just be able to solve the mystery before the character. In one scene, we see a fellow patient drinking water from a cup, and then it disappears, giving a clue that maybe what the audience is seeing is not actually reality. Also, in one of the final scenes Dr. Cawley played by Ben Kingsley repeats the question, “Why are you all wet baby?” to Teddy, which we have seen Teddy ask his wife Dolores played by Michelle Williams, again eluding to the fact that Cawley understands all and we do not.  Before you see this movie, get a firm grasp on your sanity, because when the credits roll, you will be asking yourself the question, “Am I insane?”

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