Director: Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese’s latest picture reunites him with his now regular collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, who takes the lead role of Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal in 1954 on assignment to the remote Shutter Island, home to a secure facility for deranged criminals, where a murderess has escaped from her seemingly inescapable cell.
The story makes for excellent escapism, and moves at a swift enough pace to never leave the audience with sufficient time to dwell on each successive fragment of the plot, which becomes ever more complicated as it apparently takes shape and the big picture materialises. Every technical aspect of the film on its own is exceptional. The cinematography is noticeably flawless, the performances are all top-drawer and there are genre references galore. Were Alfred Hitchcock alive today he might almost have the right to call Scorsese a copycat!
Thrills and spills
This all amounts to two plus hours of quality pulp fiction, but from a director so expert a storyteller, it feels perhaps one step too far into style over substance territory. The content features subject matter relating to such real life horrors as the Holocaust and filicide. On one hand these are not handled gratuitously, and are absolutely integral to the story, but some may find their juxtaposition with a tale, which is ultimately inconsequential, uncomfortable. If you are not in that boat though, then Shutter Island should provide you with plenty of interesting thrills and spills.
While it doesn’t quite feel the sum of its parts, an intriguing line of dialogue at the end helps to find a hard-earned sense of catharsis. The film wants you to constantly guess at what is really going on, and the twists come more than thick and fast enough for that to be a satisfyingly challenging game. The finale considered though, it may be more rewarding to simply sit back and let the plot lead you where it may. It is for the individual to decide whether that means that the script is too clever for its own good, or not clever enough!