By Sebastian Joseph
Shutter Island disappointed me, not because its pants, but for a film based on the best selling novel (of the same name) by Dennis Lehane, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring the acting talents of both Leonardo Dicaprio and Ben Kingsley. I was expecting to be treated to something akin to seeing Liverpool win the champions league final back in 2005.
Instead, after sitting through the film’s 138 minute run time I left the cinema feeling underwhelmed and slightly annoyed. To avoid any spoilers the basic premise is this – Shutter Island is an institute for the criminally insane. One of the patients on the island has escaped and so federal marshals Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Rufalo are dispatched to investigate. From the odd looking patients to the over bearing guards Shutter Island unapologetically uses generic horror conventions from the get go to create an eerie atmosphere. Its obvious that here nothing is what it seems.
Its clear right from the beginning, following the marshals entrance to the island by sea, that you’re watching a master filmmaker at work. Scorsese manages to strike the perfect balance between b-movie creepiness and straight up terror that only heightens as the movie goes on.
Oh yea and the soundtracks’ amazing,
The first half of the film was enjoyable, as the marshals’ investigation pushes them from frustrating encounters with Psychologists John Cawley and Jeremiah Naehring (played nicely by Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydnow) to a creepy conversation with a patient in an underground cell. Things feel well paced and the story plausible.
However as things start to unravel and the film reaches its conclusion, we’re treated to a WTF moment that just flops and threatens to undermine everything that’s lead up to that point. OK it might not be that bad – but if the WTF moment from Fight Club is an Aston Martin DB5 then Shutter Island’s is a Nissan Sunny at best.
Despite my criticisms Shutter Island isn’t a bad movie, it’s just not as good as I thought it would be. Like all successful teams Scorsese and Dicaprio know how to win when they’re playing badly. My verdict: Good but not The Departed (or even Gangs of New York)