At Number 2…Shutter Island Review

Shutter Island - Leonardo DiCaprio

Image by WorthingTheatres via Flickr

Shutter Island (2010) became one of the most outstanding films of the year when it was released last year. If there are any rules on how to make a thriller, then director, Martin Scorsese, has hit the nail on the head. The film oozes mystery, and keeps you guessing (unless you have read the book) until the end. It’s so enticing that it constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you like intense thrillers, and you like to follow a storyline through and through then you will definitely love this film. Some thrillers tend to try and work too hard to engross the viewer and this one doesn’t need to. 2010 was a very good year for film and this one can sit proudly on the list of the year’s best productions.

The story follows Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a government official with his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). The pair are sent on an investigation to find a missing patient Rachel on a small, mysterious island, which has been converted into a mental asylum for the criminally insane. As the story unfolds, you learn that Teddy has his own grudges against the island which compel him to begin his own investigation. As his suspicions grow stronger, and his past is revealed, the audience begins to wonder ‘is everything what it seems?’ And that’s the theme of this thriller. And it keeps you guessing.

The story seems simple, and when you see the trailers, you would expect a different kind of film. But like me, viewers are tricked into thinking you’re watching something else. And here is the trick; following Teddy encourages you to view the island through his perspective alone, and by extension assume that Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley) is evil, just because Teddy thinks he is. Whether he is he or not is your opinion to make. The film uses great camera work, so you believe that what Teddy Daniels is seeing is correct. I had to watch the film a few times to see how it properly played out for the ultimate twist. In a way, there are two big twists in this film, and whether or not you figure out the second one depends on whether you follow the film properly.

The musical score in the film plays a significant part because it emphasises the mood of the film, especially when things start getting strange. But like films such as Inception and The Dark Knight the films wouldn’t be as effective without a great musical score driving behind it. Whether this is a bad thing or not  is left to be questioned but it does leave you wondering what the film would be like without this music. Saying this it suits the film, the over dramatising of the music leaves you confused at first but then it sinks in that it actually matches the storyline.

You feel quite unsettled for some parts of the film because of the mystery around it. You feel obliged to try and figure out the storyline and find out the twist before the end because like most films you like to know it before it comes. People do this because it makes them feel clever. This film is hard to figure out though so don’t expect to guess many turns in the storyline. Some films that are book adaptations sometimes fail to deliver on the big screen however this film has had favourable reviews. Outstanding reviews is always a good sign that its managed to reflect the actual book correctly.

Leonardo DiCaprio is having an excellent two years in acting because this actor never fails to surprise me. I don’t know if any of you have watched Revolutionary Road, which has the greatest drama scenes I’ve witnessed. At first I thought it was because Leonardo was working with Kate Winslet, because he’s worked with her in the past. But even in Shutter Island, he manages to deliver the most outstanding acting, better than any other actor/actress in the film. Mark Ruffalo plays Chuck and plays it lightly, however this works because it justifies how the storyline pans out. The most exciting acting comes from Michelle Williams, who plays Dolores Chanal, Teddy’s dead wife, who turns up in his dreams, memories and delusions. She plays the character with such intensity that she nearly had me convinced she was real, and she wasn’t even in the film much.

The only criticism to point out in the film is sometimes its quite slow but speeds up when it needs to. First time I watched the film I didn’t enjoy the slow parts because I felt the storyline wasn’t getting anywhere. Thrillers need to be fast paced the majority of the time but somehow Shutter Island gets away with being slow and sometimes over-mysterious. Quite a few will probably feel the need to switch off because slow moving films don’t suit some peoples tastes, so it’s a matter of preference, hopefully it doesn’t put many off.

Inception will always be regarded as a better Leonardo DiCaprio film because of the accolades it has achieved however it doesn’t mean this film should be underestimated. This film should have won many awards, maybe it’s release date was timed wrong so it wasn’t lined up for the great awards but if you’re a fan of thrillers, intense thrillers especially than you should watch this.

This film did reasonably well in box office sales, but it deserves more credit than it got because its portrayal of a mental asylum is fantastic and it’s filmed to near perfection (apart from the odd blooper, which some have argued was done on purpose to show the mental delusions). The cinematography of the film isn’t perfect but it does inspire, the darker scenes engross you which is helped by the way it is filmed. I think the acting of Leonardo and Michelle helps the film go forward by some very exciting drama. And the supporting acts just do equally as well. If you are curious watch it.

‘I’ma blow the lid off this place’…a quote you will find so hard not to say having watched this film. Watch it twice… trust me. End.

By Daniel Hart

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