Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo as Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley as Dr. John Cawley
Max von Sydow as Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Michelle Williams as Dolores Chanal
Emily Mortimer as Rachel Solando 1
Patricia Clarkson as Rachel Solando 2
Jackie Earle Haley as George Noyce
Director: Martin Scorsese
Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), two US marshals, are sent to an asylum on a remote island in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient, where Teddy uncovers a shocking truth about the place.
Shutter Island was great when I saw it some years ago, and I’ve been meaning to give it a second viewing for some time. The acting was really good, it was greatly directed, and it was an effectively suspenseful thriller with some effective twists. I can confirm that Shutter Island works an even better level after the first viewing.
There are plenty of movies with some twists and reveals, and then people say that apparently you’ll see the movie completely differently on a second viewing. Shutter Island is one of the strongest examples of a movie that really holds up to that. There is so much in this movie that I can’t reveal, so I’m basically forced to keep some things vague. It’s a movie that has a number of effective twists and captivates you from start to finish. You really are following along with the main character and trying to figure out the mystery of what’s going on. The only problem that I had with the movie was how they handled a certain reveal in the last act. They spend a lot of time outright explaining it right after saying what really happened, and it sort of dragged on for a little too long, killing much of the shock and tension that was originally generated. I liked what direction the plot in and especially the ending, but that portion was a little messy.
Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances as lead character Teddy Daniels. It’s extremely difficult to talk about why his performance is so great without giving much away, it’s effectively emotional and he fits into the role perfectly. The supporting cast is also good, with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine adding quite a bit to the movie. For the sake of not revealing too much, I won’t talk too much about them either.
Martin Scorsese directs Shutter Island excellently, creating a dark and unsettling atmosphere. He also does well at giving the feeling like you’re right in a noire movie. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, gorgeously dark and gloomy, it really places you on this gothic island that just doesn’t seem right. Speaking of which, the production design is very effective and detailed. There are some dreamlike and hallucination scenes that are among the best I’ve seen in a movie. Shutter Island is the closest thing to a horror movie that Scorsese directed, and makes you uncertain about a lot of the things you see. The music choices are also great, and using Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight is never going to stop hitting me right in the feels.
Shutter Island is a fantastic movie that for whatever reason often gets placed among ‘lesser Scorsese’ films, I consider it at least in his top 10 for the time being. The story and premise might be a little typical of many other thrillers, but Martin Scorsese really gives something special to this one, the plot is gripping and suspenseful, and the acting is great, particularly from Leonardo DiCaprio. A second viewing only elevates the movie further, knowing what’s really going on the whole time. Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t watched it already. And if you have seen it once, check it out again, it’s a completely different experience.