Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In legendary film director Martin Scorsese’s new film ‘Shutter Island’ we start out meeting the character of U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels as played by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and Marshall Daniels isn’t doing all that well. Teddy, along with his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) is on a ferry to Shutter Island, a cozy little enclave off the coast of Boston, in the year of 1954, that houses a mental facility for the criminally insane but Teddy’s sea sickness is getting the better of him and they can’t hit land soon enough. The Marshall’s are on the island to explore the case of a missing patient, one Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer) who somehow has escaped from this high security facility with the electrified fences, though this seems almost next to impossible. Whatever is going on at this facility the guards here are on supreme alert because from the minute Daniels and Aule arrive on this island everyone seems to be teetering on the edge.

As Daniels begins this investigation of this missing patient things are already not adding up. The director of this facility Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) seems to be stonewalling some of the efforts of our Marshall’s by restricting their access to the patient files and not making the patients or the staff immediately available to them. Teddy himself is suffering from some personal issues, still grieving over the death of his beloved wife Delores (Michelle Williams) who died in an apartment a couple of years back and who Teddy often has nightmares about. Teddy is also a veteran of the Second World War and was one of the soldiers who helped free a concentration camp and the events that transpired during that liberation are still wreaking havoc on my man’s psyche.

Eventually the players at this facility start coming around in assisting Teddy on investigating the possible whereabouts of this missing woman, a woman who murdered her three children despite the fact her fractured mind lives everyday as if they were still alive. Yes, The Crazy done grabbed a hold of this woman and won’t let go. Even

though this missing woman is a priority for our Marshall there seems to be something bigger afoot at this facility, in addition to a whole slew of other loosely connected events transpiring around us. Through a little bit of personal investigation U.S. Marshall Daniels has gotten some intel on some experiments that might be happening at this facility, experiments he is determined to stop, that is if these people performing these illegal experiments don’t stop U.S. Marshall Daniels and his partner from blowing the lid off this joint.

‘Shutter Island’ is the kind of film that requires the viewer to pay extra close attention to a lot of things transpiring around us in this movie because there is some kind of meaning to almost every event going on in practically every frame of this movie. That being said, ultimately I felt that ‘Shutter Island’ was a movie that took an awful long time to get someplace where I already knew it was going. An awful long time. Mr. Scorsese sets the film up as a psychological drama with a heavy dose of some mystery elements with these elements being initially concealed from us, but leaking to the audience over the course of the film. The thing is the solution to this mystery seems kind of obvious and considering I’m not the brightest bulb in the box I’m debating on whether or not it’s supposed to be a mystery in the first place. The details behind this mystery are hazy and will be summarily laid out for us but the essentials of this alleged mystery seem fairly clear.

So with the mystery elements of this movie set to the side what exactly are we left with? Well, one thing would be close to two and a half hours of watching Leonardo DiCaprio freak out. Now Leonardo DiCaprio is a fine actor, maybe even a great one and as such he almost carries this entire movie but it did feel like a lot of the same thing over and over again. I read that this movie was edited down by the studio after seeing the original cut to this particular length that we are privy to but considering what I saw at the theater I’m going to go ahead and say that either it needed to be edited down even more... or it needed to be left alone and we needed to see all that Mr. Scorsese had intended for us to see.

Of course I don’t want any of this to indicate to you that I thought ‘Shutter Island’ was a bad movie. For starters the level of artistic skill in Scorsese’s direction and the phenomenal cinematography is immeasurable. The performances by a cast which can probably only be assembled by someone with the pull of a Martin Scorsese is stellar. There’s a lot of detail in this film which comes back to why I mention you must pay close attention. For instance at times there seem to be glitches in the edits, but not really. Events that seem a little odd as the film plays out become crystal clear if you play these same events back in your minds eye after the final details of our situation are laid out for us. Some of these ‘final details’ feel like they are a bit out there but this is a movie based on a novel and if it’s in the book then it’s in the book and we’ll just roll with it. The term ‘Major Motion Picture’ was made specifically for a movie like ‘Shutter Island’.

However, at least for me, all of these amazing elements which form this film just didn’t equal up to a film that was as all that amazing, at least as these separate elements would have you convinced of how this film should’ve been. ‘Shutter Island’ in the final analysis… is okay. With talent like this behind this film, I don’t think ‘okay’ was what the powers that be were shooting for.

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