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Movie Review: Shutter Island - A New Classic (Spoiler Free)

Mortuary Scene from Shutter Island
Movie: Shutter Island
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley & Mark Ruffalo
Director: Martin Scorsese

It's not often that a movie comes along that so perfectly defines it's genre like Shutter Island. A stark and haunting mix of mystery, suspense and psychological thriller. Every scene containing subtle and meticulous clues that unravel before your eyes. This review is spoiler free for those who have not seen this film yet and so may not contain some plot points.  Set in 1954 US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) accepts the case of a missing woman who has escaped from a mental institute for the criminally insane. He is assigned a new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). Teddy though has another reason for accepting the case, to find a man he believes killed his wife. He is haunted by images of his past atrocities committed in World War II and by  visions of his dead wife. As he investigates he becomes more and more sure that there is something sinister being kept secret on the island and more afraid that he may never escape. That probably doesn't really do the plot justice but I'm afraid if I say to much I'll give away the ending.

The way that Scorsese has crafted this film is really remarkable. The scenes are layered in a way where you never really know the true motivations behind many of the characters. A mystery in the truest sense of the word. The acting is top notch as well which just lends more to the mystery. DiCaprio is great as Teddy Daniels a man desperate to find the truth about the island. Even as he becomes more paranoid and distrustful you always feel as if you identify with him and want him to succeed. Another great performance is given by Ben Kingsley as the head psychiatrist Dr. John Cawley he has a calm demeanor but seems reluctant to help in the investigation. You are never quite sure what his intentions are or what he could be hiding.

The setting and score simply add to the mysterious and dark tone of the film. The other inmates insanity gives credibility to the notion that maybe just maybe insanity is contagious. Without giving away the ending I will say this is the kind of movie that as soon as it has concluded you'll want to watch again to see what you could have missed. With an ending that is at once shocking and yet comes to feel like the only possible ending there ever could have been. This movie will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to put together all the pieces of the puzzle. Things never seem to quite add up and you never know just who is trustworthy and who is not until the very end.

If you like psychological thrillers or just movies in general then you owe it to yourself to see this film. Finely crafted with an for eye for detail that really pays off in the end. The tone and setting are perfect and the ending is shocking to say the least. Highly recommended. You can buy Shutter Island on DVD or Blu-ray from our online store.

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January 4, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Christopher Nolan is starting to be my favorite director. Memento, The Prestige, Batman, and now Inception. I am going to get this movie...

January 4, 2011 at 5:33 PM

dgmpepper...this movie was directed by Scorsese, not Nolan. Though I do agree with you that Nolan is awesome. I think youre getting confused because of DiCaprio being in this and in Inception :)

As to the review - I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm a huge fan of the book, which is nearly perfect in plot and execution and psychological examination and in the book, too, you come to root for Teddy, and also realize even as you're shocked by the ending, that it was the only possible end. I'm going to watch the movie soon, and now I feel even more hopeful that it will do the book justice.

January 5, 2011 at 12:12 PM

I think I was also getting confused by the type of movie. The review says it has subtle clues and twists. I guess that made me think of Nolan.

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