It could be said that Shutter Island is one of the most visually rich and intoxicating films by Scorsese to date, as the photography and cinematography are nothing short of superb. The Socialite’s Chia Kougianos recently viewed the suspense thriller…
I will admit up front, I walked into the theatre thinking it would be a case of Shutter-my-eyes-Island and I would be left dreaming of the credit sequence to roll in putting a much needed end to the suspense and anxiety I’d feel. I was right. About the first part that is. A fair dose of holding my breath was endured, which began at the start when thriller-type, albeit cliché, music beats loudly as the lead characters make their way onto Shutter Island. Clearly I am not one for big thrills and scares, so yes perhaps I should have been sitting in Hannah Montana 3D, but I was actually rather impressed with Martin Scorsese’s delivery of Shutter Island. With the help of cinematographer Robert Richardson, production designer Dante Ferretti, music supervisor Robbie Robertson and editing whiz Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese delivers a truly mesmerising mind-bender.
In this thrilling cinematic offering, we are introduced to U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, played by Leo DiCaprio who, along with his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), is headed on a ferry to Shutter Island, a remote area off the coast of Boston where a Civil War fort had been reformed into an asylum for the criminally insane. Teddy and Chuck travel to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a woman (Emily Mortimer) who murdered her three children and has lived in the asylum ever since, blocking the entire debacle from her memory.
The woman was in a room, locked from the outside with only one window covered with bars. No one working saw her escape and she apparently dissipated into thin air. The only clue is a small piece of paper that might indicate there is a missing patient in the asylum, one not on record.
This mystery is only included to set up the real problems lying within the walls of the prison. The asylum is presided over by Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley). He is working with Dr. Naehring (Max Von Sydow), a German who might also have been involved with mind altering experiments for the Nazi’s. Also playing a prominent role is the warden of the prison, played by a manic Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs). When Kingsley, Von Sydow and Levine are the men who run the prison, you know something can’t be right within the institution.
Shutter Island transitions between “the real” and “the surreal” leaving a mystery begging viewers to unfold. DiCaprio, Kingsley and Ruffalo execute multi-layered performances with a depth and quality that leaves you gullible at every word. DiCaprio delivered his most haunting and emotionally complex performance yet, while Michelle Williams delivers a striking performance as Teddy’s murdered wife.
Watch out for some great cameos, that include an appearance by Patricia Clarkson as a mysterious woman living on the island, Ted Levine as Shutter Island’s violent warden and Jackie Earle Haley as a distraught inmate.
It could be said that Shutter Island is one of the most visually rich and intoxicating films by Scorsese to date, as the photography and cinematography are nothing short of superb. The hallucination sequences are executed with great effect and leave you feeling just as disoriented as the characters.
When Shutter Island ended, I sat there for a moment awe struck at what I had seen. Shutter Island takes everything you expect to happen and turns it on its head. From the score to the camera movements, it never allows you to relax and builds the tension until the very end.
While artistically exploring the idea of reality vs. hallucination, the gothic yet thrilling aspects of lobotomy surgery, radical drug experiments and mind-control conspiracies of Shutter Island demands that you keep a watchful eye and stay alert if you want to stay ahead of its surprise ending.