Updated: Monday, 22 Feb 2010, 11:28 AM EST
Published : Monday, 22 Feb 2010, 2:53 AM EST
By FOX43tv.com's Film Reviewer, Stephanie Cooke
U.S. Marshals Chuck and Teddy (Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio) land on an island off Massachusetts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a prisoner/patient who murdered her own children. Shutter Island in the 1950's is home to Ashecliff Hospital -- a federal prison for the criminally insane. Chuck and Teddy soon find themselves in the middle of the perfect storm, both figuratively and literally.
A hurricane comes up on the island, forcing the G-men to stay longer than they would have liked. And the longer they stay, the more Chuck finds out about what really brought Teddy there. Seems Teddy is on the hunt for the man he holds responsible for his wife's death. The storm, the hospital and ex-Nazi psychiatrist (Max Von Sydow), combine to bring on periodic flashbacks for Teddy -- who we learn was a G.I. liberator at the Dachau concentration camp in World War II. Teddy is soon suffering from migraines and has to take medicine from Ashecliff's chief physician played hauntingly well by Ben Kingsley.
During interviews with patients and inmates, Teddy is convinced he is close to finding who he came for and won't stop until he finds him. Along the way he also becomes convinced that Shutter Island is hiding secrets among them human trials for the House Un-American Activities committee. Teddy becomes blinded to reality and will stop at nothing to get to the lighthouse and prove it all.
The cinematography of Robert Richardson is superb. The gloomy setting is juxtaposed with the vivid Teddy nightmares featuring his dead wife (Michelle WIlliams). The nightmares are beautifully horrific and some of the best scenes in the film. I was confused by the odd cuts between the ferry wideshots and green screen closeups, but maybe no one else was. I just wondered why that hokeyness was alright for Scorsese.
My main issue with the film is not the directing, it's the script. Written by Laeta Kalogridis and based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (of Mystic River fame), the plot itself is interesting and most of the twists and turns are thrilling and suspenseful. But from the beginning I wasn't given enough story to believe why on earth two Federal Marshals would be sent to investigate this patient disappearance. And when it came to the ending, well, too many neatly tied bows -- tied right on screen. Instead of just ending with revelations in the lighthouse, we have to sit through scenes we saw throughout seemingly just to reinforce why we should believe the ending. It's almost like someone said: "it won't be pop movie fare without these scenes." And Scorsese listened.
Shutter Island is long, the story is questionable, but nevertheless, it is worth seeing. Long review short: I will take an almost-great Scorsese picture any day over most common movie fare.