Film: Martin Scorsese. The man has been one of the most prolific and impressive directors of all time, who has had a huge impact on Hollywood for the best part of 40 years. Scorsese is best known for taking the crime movie and turning it on its head many a time, creating highly stylish and engrossing stories with any material he has been handed. But Scorsese is a director who has always wanted to change-up his own game play, going from hard-hitting gangster (Goodfellas, Casino etc.) movies to say a drama piece about one of the greatest mavericks of our time (The Aviator) or from controversial religious fair (The Last Temptation of Christ) to murder thrillers (Cape Fear). Here with Shutter Island, Scorsese has made the closest thing to a horror since well, Cape Fear, although it is more of a psychological thriller. And the result? One of the most visually captivating and gripping movies Scorsese has made in his illustrious career.  

The story based on Denis Lehane’s 2003 Novel of the same name follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s Federal Marshall Teddy Daniels who, along with his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), has been sent to Shutter Island to investigate a disappearance. The only thing is, the island is home to a mental asylum for the criminally insane, and the missing patient was sent there for killing her three children. But there is more than meets the eye to this island, as Teddy starts to uncover dark truths behind the operations of the asylum, whilst also battling his own mind and vendetta for the man responsible for his wife’s death, whose memory still haunts his dreams. But through many twists and turns, Teddy comes out at a conclusion that he could never have seen coming, and neither could we. You know, if you haven’t read the book.

Scorsese and DiCaprio’s previous collaborations have been very good, the films highlighting some of the higher points of both of their respective careers, The Departed particularly for Scorsese as he finally won his long deserved Oscar. But here they both work with material unfamiliar to them. DiCaprio gives a brilliantly layered performance in the role of Teddy Daniels. he is a very reserved and resourceful character who has his own disturbing past as we see through some incredibly stylish and disturbing flashbacks to Daniel’s time in the war and the death of his wife. DiCaprio creates a tough yet vulnerable character, who even throughout the surprising twist and turns, you still very much care for him.

The direction the narrative takes may cause some confusion, you certainly have to pay attention for you may miss a vital detail in the build up to the film’s eventual twist. Scorsese makes the whole thing look stunning though that your eyes will be glued to the screen anyway. Scorsese creates a very effective Film Noir, with very broad colours to help give the atmosphere of a 1950’s setting. He takes us through dark grimy prisons, sea-washed cliff faces, grey chilling concentration camps and gives us a glimpse at the pastel coloured 50’s suburbia. There are many environments explored in this movie, and it’s Scorsese’s skill that allows the flash-back and the mystery on the island to flow seamlessly over the narrative and create a dark, structured and involving experience.

This is very much DiCaprio’s show, but he does have great support here. Ben Kingsley is finally acting for a change rather than doing sell out roles where he is never really acquired to actually do anything and is just there for a name on the poster. But here his role has meaning to the progression of the story and is involved a great deal in the final twist. Mark Ruffalo shows a lot more versatility here then what he usually gives in such films as Just Like Heaven. His role is also an important one in the build up to the twist, initially creating a character we think we can trust, but slowly makes us question otherwise. Michelle Williams performance adds a greater sense of mystery around Teddy’s wife to what was already established on the page. Max Von Sydow, who seems to be in practically everything at the moment, adds a touch of class and experience to the cast as a German Psychiatrist, which means we can’t trust him. What? It’s them making the stereotype not me!

When the twist comes, some viewers may have been expecting it but hoping for it not to be true and others may not have seen it coming at all, but it is very cleverly constructed like a hell-bent rollercoaster ride. It is very much a film you think you have figured out but then throws another curveball right at the end just when you thought that the twist had come and the characters direction and motives had come to a conclusion, but then comes the last line of dialogue. It is a very satisfying ending to a film of a complex nature like this, some films tend to disappoint with its twists, but here I certainly wasn’t. Scorsese and DiCaprio deliver the goods in what is one of the better films of the year, that I highly recommend  if just to see two of Hollywood’s best talents working at the top of their game.

Extras: There are no extras on this DVD. They’ve all been saved for the Blu-Ray. Which does slightly suck for me. Perhaps I need to seriously invest in a Blu-Ray player soon as my friend Mr. De La Mare has been trying to convince me to do for some time if they keep saving the extras for the Blu-Ray’s. Even though I don’t think that’s particularly fair for DVD, poor deprived guy. 

Film- 5/5          Extras- N/A

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