Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island (2010)
  • Time: 138 min
  • Genre: Drama | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer


It’s 1954, and up-and-coming U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. He’s been pushing for an assignment on the island for personal reasons, but before long he wonders whether he hasn’t been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors whose radical treatments range from unethical to illegal to downright sinister. Teddy’s shrewd investigating skills soon provide a promising lead, but the hospital refuses him access to records he suspects would break the case wide open. As a hurricane cuts off communication with the mainland, more dangerous criminals “escape” in the confusion, and the puzzling, improbable clues multiply, Teddy begins to doubt everything – his memory, his partner, even his own sanity.


  • Brilliantly acted , brilliantly directed and a plot line that will keep you engaged throughout the whole film. Importantly stick with it , slow paced but a great watch, don’t be one of this people that sits in on a conversation later with you being the only one that turned it off and everyone else explaining what a hit you have missed

    We join the film with Teddy and Chuck , two FBI agents on a ferry headed over to the island to investigate a missing person.

    Ben Kingsley plays the evasive Dr Cawley and you just know you are not going to like this character as he plays his own mind games with Teddy and Chuck believing him to be a superior person. Introduce Max Von Sydow , Dr Naehring , a man with a superiority complex of unbelievable heights. The two doctors are obstructive and you know they know more than they are letting on but you just can’t put your finger on it.

    As the investigation becomes more detailed and god forbid Teddy and Chuck try to interview the patients at the hospital , how they though that psychiatric patients would be of use is a point that still makes me think.

    A gripping conclusion at a fairly fast pace compared to the rest of the film leaves you thinking , what did just happen, is it possible.

  • Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule have been given a new case. A woman has disappeared from a hospital for the criminally insane. When he and his partner arrive, they meet the head doctor, and they see the former patient’s room. After noticing multiple inconsistencies, and the nurses and guards refuse to allow Daniels to see certain information about the patients, suspicion arises. As he tries to investigate further, Daniels experiences multiple flashbacks, both to his World War II encounter while liberating a concentration camp and his late wife. As the story continues, more and more questions arise, and the answers will be hard to find.

    When I first saw the trailers and posters for this film, I thought it was a horror movie. It takes place mostly on a mysterious island, there is a mental hospital, and the lone still of a frail patient putting a finger to her mouth were enough to create this preconception. I have never been a huge fan of the horror movie genre. I can appreciate a film that incorporates shocking images to add to the story, but I feel like many horror flicks are simply made with the sole purpose of making its viewers wet their pants,
    Contrary to my previous thought, this movie is in fact not necessarily a horror movie. It may qualify as one to some people, but I found it to be more of a psychological thriller. Also, a twist ending, when executed properly, can earn my respect any day.
    I have found that the duo between Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese has produced many of our modern classics. Usually associated with the gangster sub-genre, Scorsese wanted to create a film that incorporated some of his favorite aspects of many thriller genre movies. The story does a fantastic job of portraying the human mind’s wild nature, and how it can change how we see the world.
    Leonardo DiCaprio does a great job of showcasing the emotional aspects of his character, Sir Ben Kingsley does a fine job of creating a character that is both trustworthy and suspicious, and Mark Ruffalo’s character also makes the audience unsure of what he is thinking.
    Though this film was not recognized by the Academy, I have found this to be one of my favorite thriller movies, and favorite horror-type film as well.
    Now I must warn you, this is a rated R film, and it is deservedly so. The violence and graphic images are pretty intense. That’s my warning, and I hope that you take that into account before seeing this film.

    While I see that it is necessary to show the intense images in order to understand Teddy’s experiences and how the other characters act, they did not quite sit right in my stomach.

  • A cuckoo’s nest on an island

    A brilliant psychological thriller where nothing seems like it should be. You’ll be mislead the whole movie. The denouement is extremely surprising and plausible, but then turns right back to an open end which raises the same question : Is Ted still living in his unreal delusional world or is he really aware of his ultimate identity and thus voluntarily commits suicide to get rid of the agonizing trauma that chases him for years? Indeed, a true “mind fuck ” in this movie.

    Scorsese placed the whole story on a remote island. Superbly portrayed as an isolated, desolate, rough rock where escaping is impossible. Using the ferry is a possibility but it’s in the hands of the institute. The movie begins as the ferry arrives on the island with Ted (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) on board . I’m not a huge fan of Leonardo, but I must admit that I could appreciate his performances in “Django” and “Inception” and I don’t look at him as the youthful Jack from “Titanic”, but more like a chameleon-like actor who has gradually found its place among the other big boys.
    The other actors are not the least. Mark Ruffalo plays a decent role as partner annex personal psychiatrist Ted. Personally I thought he’s more convincing in this role then as Bruce Banner in “The Avengers” and recently as Dylan Rhodes in “Now you see it”.

    Ben Kingsley is a class act who plays the head psychiatrist with bravado and suppleness . The has a unique view on the treatment of psychiatric “patients”. It’s masterfully to see how his deadpan expression can change from compassionate to chiding. Max von Sydow is a well established value with a finicky small contribution. In that split second, he shows how psychiatrists feel superior over other human beings.

    What begins as an apparently simple detective story with a search for an escaped patient, turns into a whirlwind of claustrophobic proportions. The threat and insane atmosphere accumulates systematically. The interior of Block C was soaring and fits well with the idea that the most dangerous individuals are imprisoned there. Far off from the outside world. The lighthouse is a gloomy edifice that stands out against the dark ocean and could indeed turn out to be a place to perform true inhuman experiments.

    Gradually the question arises whether Ted is indeed insane or that he’s involved in a grand conspiracy to cover it all up. His flashbacks of Dachau and dreams about the alleged dramatic death of his wife, the delusions of rats on the rocks, the trembling of his hands and sometimes psychotic manners, point out to the first. The story of the hiding female psychologist Rachel, surely makes you doubt again. The story of the mark that you get after internment is credible. Whatever you do to prove the opposite, it will always be reduced to the fact that you’re insane.
    Fifty years from now, people will look back and say, “Here, at this place, is where it all began The Nazis used the Jews, Soviets used prisoners in Their Own Gulags And we -.., We tested patients on Shutter Island.”

    The final revelation was also a surprise for me and explained everything that preceded. The turnaround to total awareness and to admit that he lived all those years in a delusional world, proved the successful outcome of the whole set-up. I only doubt that you can apply this technique in reality.

    The final sentence then puts everything in an entirely different context : “Which would be worse – to live as a monster or to die as a good man?” Is Ted still that monster or is he the cured repented patient who deliberately commits euthanasia by using lobotomy ?

    Excellent movie !!!

  • Martin Scorsese has made his Vertigo. Just like Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest film (in my opinion), Shutter Island will go down as one of Scorsese’s best works, a masterpiece of storytelling and direction. In this review, I will include a discussion (that may include potential spoilers) of two key films which have influenced Shutter Island – the abovementioned Vertigo (1958) and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980).

    Scorsese is a master filmmaker who knows what he can do, and in Shutter Island he has made his most commercial film yet and he does so without sacrificing on the high cinematic quality and dedicated craftsmanship that have defined most of his pictures since his breakthrough in the 1970s with Mean Streets (1973).

    Shutter Island is a psychological thriller of the highest order. Scorsese blends elements of Gothicism, B-movie horror, and noir into a storyline best described as a labyrinth of twists and turns with a resolution so powerfully thought-provoking (and unsettling) that it demands a second viewing to fully admire and embrace what Scorsese has accomplished.

    The film’s final line “is it better to live as a monster or to die as a good man?” as calmly questioned by Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) before he is voluntarily led to his death reveals a great level of ambiguity that is up to one’s own interpretation.

    DiCaprio’s first-rate performance ought to land him a fourth acting Oscar nomination. He transforms himself into Teddy, a sane person bordering on psychopathic tendencies (or a mental wreck trying to grasp at every last bit of sanity). DiCaprio is joined by two remarkable supporting actors in Ben Kingsley (Dr. Cawley) and Max von Sydow (Dr. Naehring), both of whom outshine Mark Ruffalo (Chuck Aule) whose average performance is the film’s weakest aspect.

    The first shot of the ferry emerging from the white mist, and later, shots of Shutter Island accompanied by an ominous classical score with strong motifs eerily echo the introduction to The Shining. Shutter Island’s suspenseful build-up to the arrival on the island helps to cast a shadow of looming evil onto the place, and just like the Overlook hotel in Kubrick’s film, it feels like it has a ghastly character of its own. Scorsese’s decision to shoot in full widescreen format pays dividends as he successfully brings a high level of immersiveness to the picture.

    It is well-documented that Scorsese is a firm admirer of the great Hitchcock. Here he “copies” visual cues from Vertigo and to great effect if I may add. More interestingly, DiCaprio’s character mirrors that of James Stewart’s in Vertigo. Both obsess over a woman (albeit with different reasons) and seek to uncover the truth behind an apparent conspiracy. Both have psychological liabilities and are “cured” by the end of the film.

    In Shutter Island, the finale is devastating. But what comes before – the twists and turns of the story, and the mind-boggling alternations between dreams, nightmares, and reality – is simply a tour de force in the skillful manipulation of our consciousness.

    Shutter Island could be Scorsese’s most commercially successful film ever (though I am rooting for his next project, Hugo (2011) to beat this). I feel that Shutter Island is the defining work of Scorsese’s “new renaissance” period which started with Gangs of New York (2002).

    It is still premature to say this but it has a distinct possibility of ranking in the top five when I compile my top ten films of 2010 in eleven months’ time. In years to come, this masterpiece will be regarded as a special work in his oeuvre just as The Shining was to fans of Kubrick. Highly recommended.

    GRADE: A (9/10 or 4.5 stars)

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