Capone has a few brief words to say about Martin Scorsese's magnificently eerie SHUTTER ISLAND!!!
Published at: Feb. 19, 2010, 7:05 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with just a couple of things to say about this week's biggest release, and one well worth seeing. I'm keeping this one short because I truly believe the less you know going into this film the better, but I still have a job to do, so here we go.
As he creeps toward 70 years old, Martin Scorsese still has a few tricks up his sleeve. There was never any doubt in my mind that the guy was still in one of the most creatively vital periods of his long career, but that didn't prepare me for what he gives us with SHUTTER ISLAND, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (GONE BABY GONE; MYSTIC RIVER) and adapted by Laeta Kalogridies (ALEXANDER). Borrowing a bit from some of the great mental hospital-set films of old, with a dash of Hitchcock mind games, Scorsese has given us a true mind fuck of a movie that I think needs to be seen at least twice to be fully appreciated.
I say "appreciated" and not "understood" because I think the plot is clear, if not straightforward. What you'll appreciate upon repeated viewings are the lengths that Scorsese goes to to manipulate and lull you into a false sense of understand who people are and what exactly is going on. From the film's first scenes of Leonardo DiCaprio's Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) arriving on the island off the coast of New England that houses the most dangerous of the criminally insane, Scorsese is guiding us and essentially controlling our minds as only a true master can. I know SHUTTER ISLAND was pushed from a release date of last November, and for the life of me, I can't figured out why, because if this had come out when it was supposed to, it would be a serious awards contender. But I digress...
Set in 1954, the plot involves the two marshals coming to the federally run facility to investigate the disappearance of a female patient/prisoner. The facility's personnel, led by Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow as doctors, as well as Ted Levine as the warden and John Carroll Lynch as the deputy warden, are somewhat cooperative but they are clearly unhappy about having these outsiders on hand. Scorsese casts a shadow of doubt across every character that floats in front of his lens, and everyone is dealing in half truths, so that makes the guessing game all the more fun. If you're able to figure out what exactly is going on before all is revealing you are a better filmgoers than I, because I did not see some of this stuff coming at all.
I recommend you walk into SHUTTER ISLAND with as open a mind as humanly possible because some of the turns might be considered outrageous in someone else's hands. But Scorsese and DiCaprio know each other too well at this point to let things get ridiculous (they sure as hell flirt with it a few times). It becomes clear that Marshall Daniels has a dark history--including a run as a solider in WWII and the tragic death of people close to him--that has turned him into a short-tempered, occasionally violent man. And there's a prisoner on SHUTTER ISLAND that he has some unfinished business with. It's a race to see what builds up faster, the tension or the number of questions.
I love that Scorsese has filled nearly every role--big and small--with actors you will know. Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Haley, Elias Koteas, and an especially powerful performance by Michelle Williams as Daniels' wife (seen only in flashbacks), all have something great to add to this production. I'm willing to bet that even if you don't buy into everything that happens in SHUTTER ISLAND, you'll still appreciate Scorsese's kind of crazy. It's so complete and visually warped that you can't help but be impressed. It's tough to go into detail about the film without ruining some of the splendor of discovering it yourself, so I'll shut up and just unwaveringly recommend that you check it out a couple times, if only to be sure you saw what you thought you saw.
Follow Me On Twitter