Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shutter Island

Shutter Island
Year: 2010
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams

In My Own Words
“Shutter Island” is definitely one of my most anticipated films of the year. It was supposed to be released back in October 2009, and I was not impressed to hear that Scorsese’s new film had been pushed back 4 months. The reason I was so excited for it was that “Shutter Island” looked unlike anything Scorsese had ever done before. The genius director is no stranger to thrillers, but this was his first attempt at one that bordered on horror the way “Shutter Island” looked like it would be according to the trailer. I really wish that the film was released back in October, rather than been released now with the huge build up and very high expectations. Although the expectations would’ve been high regardless of the timing because of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s past record.

The expectations may have ruined it for me, but when I take away the expectations from my judgement, I still come to a similar conclusion about this film. I can’t help but think that original endings in Hollywood are completely going out the window. All I can really hope is that I can start seeing suspenseful thriller movies soon where I can’t guess the ending. Or is there really such thing as originality anymore? It’s a sad thought. I’m a big fan of receiving the unexpected in movies, whether I be disappointed by who dies and who doesn’t or what not, at least I feel like I haven’t seen the film 5 times before.

These are my own words and here is my review.

The much anticipated latest Martin Scorsese film “Shutter Island” is to put it simply, a disappointment. The biggest disappointment about it being that it is one of those films, that there seems to be quite a few of these days, where the ending can easily be guessed at the beginning. “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane may be clever and surprising on paper, but as a screenplay, it is highly predictable. Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a US Marshall who has been assigned to a case on Shutter Island at Ashcliffe, a hospital for the clinically and criminally insane. He and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are sent to investigate a mysterious disappearance of a woman from Ashcliffe. Even though Daniels did his research before he arrived on the island, he discovers more about the island than he thought he would and feels himself becoming part of the island.

During the film, “Shutter Island” can be absolutely intriguing. It is hard to explain how this film can be intriguing, yet unoriginal without giving too much of the story away. It is like many other films and their endings, just in a hospital for the mentally disturbed, which makes it interesting. The atmosphere of the locations does indeed make the film creepy and the patients and their stories are certainly disturbing. It can be put into the same category as films such as “Girl, Interrupted” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, where it is so unsettling that you do not want to look away. The visuals of the film are gorgeous, especially that of the island itself, and the recreation of the asylum in the 1940’s is well done. However, it does seem at times that Scorsese tries a little too hard to create suspense and eeriness in his use of cinematography and sound.

DiCaprio gives a solid performance and does well as Teddy, as he always seems to do under the direction of Scorsese. Ruffalo also gives a good performance as Eddy’s partner. The two are definitely the stars of the film. Michelle Williams, who plays Teddy’s deceased wife, can only be described as flat and boring. She falls short of the expectations of the character she plays should have. Emily Mortimer and Jackie Earle Haley both deserve credit for their creepy roles as patients in the hospital.

Unfortunately, this all comes down to the realization that “Shutter Island” is unfortunately Scorsese’s worst film to date. Not because there was anything wrong with the way he made the film, but because it is highly predictable and very much like many other films that are out there. Scorsese is not normally known for fitting into film trends, but that is just what he has done here. Even if the director of “Shutter Island” was not Martin Scorsese, it would just be another film with the same ending, just better made than most.


  1. So my question to you then, is whether or not it is actually fair to criticize Hollywood/Scorsese for making a "predictable" film, when the film is not an original story and is in fact an adaptation of a previously published book?

  2. I would criticize Hollywood/Scorsese for choosing to make a film out of the book in the first place, when the book's ending is predictable and overused.

  3. I actually had the opposite experience. While I was reading the book, I predicted the ending very early on, and as a result, the power of my experience was compromised. With the film, even though I knew the ending in advance, I thought it played out much better, and it turned out to be much more powerful for me.

  4. Hi Nicki, was really interested to read what you thought of the movie as well but for me it wasn't just the ending that bothered me (partly because Glen predicted it just as we took our seats) but the colour of the movie - it was almost too vivid in some parts for a movie in a noir setting. And I haven't read the book either, but as a film i felt it tried to hard to be weird at times. A movie isn't supposed to feel that deliberated, if it is to shock me it should do it effortlessly. A very laboured film in my opinon.