Article by: Cait O’Callaghan
Martin Scorsese teams up with Leonardo DiCaprio a fourth time in his new film Shutter Island (Paramount Pictures, 2010), the story of a Bostonian U.S Marshal’s investigation into the disappearance of a patient on an island that holds a mental hospital.
Taking place in 1954, DiCaprio plays U.S Marshal Teddy Daniels, who arrives at Shutter Island’s Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane with his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). While investigating the disappearance of a woman who drowned her three children, a hurricane suddenly hits, forcing the two to stay longer than expected. Strange events start to plague the island, causing Teddy to believe that he should no longer trust anyone. Teddy sees strange visions of his dead wife, Dolores, (Michelle Williams) and past visions of himself arriving at a concentration camp as a soldier during World War II throughout the film, only contributing to his increasing paranoia. It’s up to Teddy to investigate this disappearance, find his wife’s murderer (who happens to be a patient in the hospital as well), and figure out what secrets Ashecliffe is keeping.
This movie has it all; great performances, great scenery, and a great idea, but it lacks a great storyline. Shutter Island has so much potential to be great, but in the end, it is just decent. DiCaprio plays a terrific marshal, and really captivates the audience into the struggles of his past life. Ruffalo also plays a great marshal, a guy the audience wants to trust, but because of the secrets Shutter Island is holding, it is hard to trust his character completely. Ben Kingsley performed great in his role as Dr. Cawley, the head doctor at the institution. He’s creepy and not to be trusted, even as the head doctor of someone who convinces the audience that he “wanted to do the best thing possible for the patients.” The scenery is also beautiful and creepy at the same time, with some shots filmed in the old Massachusetts state mental hospital in Medfield. The idea of investigating a disappearance of a mental patient on Ashecliffe is keeping, but in the end, it winds up like every other thriller/suspense movie that enters theaters. It is an “unpredictable” movie in the most predictable way.
Music plays a great role in thriller movies, but the music in Shutter Island seems like a whole character that needs to be pushed off Ashecliffe’s ledge. It is extremely loud, extremely obnoxious, and plays in the worst way possible. In thriller/suspense movies, the music is supposed to be played as a “jumpy” scene approaches, but the music only sounds while the camera shows scenes of the island. During the first ten minutes, the music blasts string instruments to make sure everyone in the theater is ready for the movie.
Shutter Island is overall just another decent thriller movie. It’s a shame, especially since it had so much potential, but many thrillers have come before this film, causing the end to be predictable. It’s best to wait for a rainy day when there’s nothing else to do, or until Shutter Island comes out on DVD.