Shutter Island (2010)

I’m happy. I get to review another Martin Scorsese film. Scorsese is known for making fairly high quality films, and thankfully, Shutter Island is another one. I wasn’t all that worried, with a cast as good as the one this film features, but it’s still nice to be able to sit down and really enjoy a movie every now and then. Shutter Island is one of those movies that I really, really enjoyed.

I’m really glad that I got to watch this movie, as it’s the kind of film that makes me want to watch over again right after having just seen it. So, I did just that, to see what I missed the first time around. The answer turned out to be “a lot”. See, Shutter Island has a twist ending, and it is one that has subtle hints dropped about it throughout the course of the film. Even if you look for them, you aren’t going to completely guess the ending, but you might be able to get part of it.

This is the kind of ending I like. You aren’t going to guess it, at least, not all of it. There are enough hints dropped throughout the film so that you will have something to look for on repeat viewings, and even then, you won’t find everything. Scorsese manages to still hide things from you, even after seeing the film a few times. That’s definitely appreciated, because even after you no longer care much for the story, you’ll still be paying fairly close attention.

The story is set in an insane asylum, situated on the aptly named Shutter Island. United States Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are deployed to the island to solve the case of a missing patient. Said patient apparently managed to slip past the guards and get out into the terrain surrounding the asylum. She didn’t even bother to take her shoes. That’s odd, don’t you think?

Sooner or later, we begin to question what the true purpose of the asylum is. Is it a place that actually is an asylum? Is its true purpose to perform experiments on its patients? Is the doctor of the island (Ben Kingsley) actually a doctor? Who is Teddy Daniels, and what are his true intentions for being on the island? These are all questions you will be asking yourself both while, and after you watch Shutter Island.

This is what the film does best. It keeps you thinking, making it one of the more engaging films that I’ve watched in a while. It doesn’t let up in its mystery component, and this is something I’m very thankful of. Shutter Island works on two levels. It is a very solid mystery film, but also works as a good thriller. It keeps you guessing enough to make it work as a mystery, but that isn’t the central theme. You want to find out, but the direction you take to get there is more psychological thriller than straight-up mystery.

This thrilling aspect is also brought across by the actors. Ben Kingsley does a great job in being mysterious, yet still a fairly likable character. The two U.S. Marshalls are also played really well, with DiCaprio proving again that he can play both a dramatic, and an action role. It’s not entirely convincing when he’s scaling walls of the asylum, but for the most part, he does his job quite well, especially when it comes to the more dramatic parts of the film.

Something that really stands out with Shutter Island is the background sounds and music used. They are used in a way that increases the tension, and enhances the atmosphere and immersion that the film goes for. It helps build the mood, and enhances almost everything about the film. Normally, a good soundtrack is one that goes unnoticed, but in this case, the soundtrack is great, and noticeable.

The only problems that the film has comes from the fact that it lasts a slight bit longer than it should, and it doesn’t develop its secondary characters enough. We get to know a lot about Teddy Daniels, where he’s from and his motives, but the rest of the cast goes unexplored. The film also goes on for a slight bit too long. It doesn’t make it too boring, and it isn’t like the running time harms the film a great deal, but there are some scenes that could have been cut and the same impact would have been felt.

Shutter Island is the kind of film I hadn’t seen in a while. It’s a very good psychological thriller that also doubles as a mystery film. This mystery is more of the audience than the film’s characters, and it keeps you guessing throughout. What will the ending bring us? That’s a question that you will ask throughout the film. The main character is interesting, although you don’t get enough of the supporting cast to make up for the quality of the talent used. It’s still a great film, one that you’ll want to re-watch sooner rather than later.

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