I was looking over the cast listing of Shutter Island and found out that one member, maybe even the star of the movie, was missing; the island that stood in for Shutter Island. The island here, which is actually a mashup of a real island with CG-additions and some locations residing on the main land, is as much a star of the movie as Leonardo DiCaprio is. Like the island in Lost or the penitentiary in Prison Break it is an environment that is really important to the movie. So much that is the movie’s title. The steep cliffs on one side, with caves and a light house. The thick forests, the secluded cemetery and the imposing mental facility. This island has been given enormous detail.
Shutter Island is the place where a hospital for the criminally insane is hosted. When one of their inmates disappears U.S. Marshalls Teddy (DiCaprio) and first case partner Chuck (Mark Ruffallo) are send there to investigate. Upon entering the island they are basically cut off from the main land and as prison protocol states that only guards are allowed to wear guns they have a serious disadvantage should something pose to them as a threat. The further they investigate the missing person case the more they seem to be aware of forces on the island working against them. Teddy has to find out what is going on here while battling some inner demons of himself as well.
Director Martin Scorcese brings us a movie full of an ominous atmosphere. Quickly after the arrival on the island a storm is heading that way and dark clouds gather above the island. This makes the 1950’s prison even more imposing with its long corridors and little technology. The two main characters controlling the facility are Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow. Both no stranger to playing villains. behind every smile they make you see something menacing, behind every soothing word they say you feel a threat. The head of the guards is being played by Ted Levine. Levine isn’t a household name but has been a solid screen presence for many years now always taking up roles in which either the character is mentally ill, evil or both. His most notable role was that of serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence Of The Lambs. Most people remember that movie for Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal yet it was him that uttered the classic line: It rubs the lotion on its skin.
With people like that walking around in a place like this its no wonder you get a sense of danger and thinking that there is more going on than meets the eye.
Shutter Island is a twist movie reminding me of movies like The Sixth Sense, Saw and Secret Window. Movies like that actually require a multiple viewing to catch all the clues that are given throughout the course of the story. The twist didn’t came as a complete surprise but when you come at the point in the movie where it’s revealed you have made up multiple possibilities explaining the story.
Despite its long running time Scorcese keeps the movie on a quick pace, of course aided by a solid script and a talented cast who could phone in these roles but actually put something extra in their characters.
Shutter Island is a movie that looks great, breathes a gloomy atmosphere and is very entertaining.