Shutter Island is pleasantly disturbing

I saw Shutter Island at the dollar theater the other day (Of course tickets are $2, but “two dollar theater” is not nearly as catchy.)

Shutter Island is Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a US Marshal investigating an escape from a mental facility for the criminally insane. It was pretty fascinating – during the first third of the movie I kept feeling as if Scorsese was forcing things and it was coming off fake and heavy handed, but once the plot hit its groove I began to understand his attempts to imitate a more retro thriller style fitting to the 1950s era in which the story is taking place. So I was eventually able to quit questioning the abrupt transitions into emotional hallucinations and other equally odd stylistic choices and I could just enjoy the story instead.

DiCaprio and the rest of the very talented ensemble cast is excellent, and the story has a nice twist ending that you may or may not see coming. In my case I began expecting one twist early on, and when I was convinced I was right it twisted another direction all together – which is great, because I enjoy being wrong about my suspicions. (doesn’t happen very often) I also really loved the thought provoking final line DiCaprio’s character utters in the film just moments after the main twist ending resolves. “It’s better to die a good man then to live as a monster” illuminates another bold twist and offers perhaps the truest insight into the character.

My only regret for this film is how underused Mark Ruffalo was, as I stated in an earlier post, he is a great actor and I would have enjoyed seeing him used more dramatically in the film. Also, underused was Elias Koteas who played a very central character but received very little screen time.

As always, the sign of a good film like this is the feeling I have leaving the theater. I felt a bit spooked and even after arriving back at my hotel the hallways and elevator seemed ominous and surreal to me. So kudos to Scorsese for disturbing me that much! I might just have to read the book, which was written by the Dennis Lehane, who also wrote the novels behind Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone – both excellent films!

Leave a Reply