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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie Review: 'Shutter Island'

Exclusive Trailer, Story description and Movie Review for 'Shutter Island'

Martin Scorsese returns with an intense supernatural drama. This review will remain spoiler free so you can enjoy the mind-boggling journey you’re about to take with Martin Scorsese’s inspired foray into supernaturally tinged noir storytelling.

As a condensed summary, know this: it is beautiful, immediate, and relentlessly gripping. Scorsese pulls both the strings and the wool over your eyes with the renewed vigour of a director stepping outside his comfort zone.

Adapted from Dennis “Mystic River” Lehane’s novel, this is a drama (or is it a horror? or a mystery?) set in 1954 about US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his investigation into the disappearance of a convicted murderer from her seemingly impenetrable cell on the notorious asylum of Shutter Island. For your own benefit that’s all we’re telling you.

When stepping foot on Scorsese’s island, the first thing you notice is how stunning it looks. You can keep your three dimensional rabbits and blue aliens if directors can still make traditional movie-making that looks this good.

Utilising a naturally graceful camera technique that is balletic in its movement, there are enough outstanding instances to fill this entire page, but if you find a sequence as stunning and detailed as DiCaprio’s apartment farewell with Michelle Williams then you can send me to the nuthouse and throw away the key. It’s breathtaking.

Orchestrated to a booming (when necessary) score, Scorsese abandons us on an intimidating island that’s made up of looming walls and isolated locations that make the penitentiary as much of a monster as the assorted loons.

There is even a nod to Mean Streets as the ferry emerges from the mist over the opening credits, and the labyrinthine claustrophobia of the Ward C steel cage sequences is highly effective. There is a comparable and successful Wicker Man vibe that permeates Shutter Island and helps magnify Teddy’s increasingly bleak plight.

It’s a situation made all the more harrowing by a career best performance from DiCaprio, and that’s going some. Initially hard headed in the tradition of all the golden era Hollywood detectives, you get the feeling he could have walked straight from the set of The Maltese Falcon. It’s watching this veneer peel away as Teddy goes deeper into the catacombs of the asylum that’s the true horror, and it’s to DiCaprio’s credit that you are emotionally attached to him every step of the way.

Marty never opts for the cheap scares either; they are all earnt by ratcheting up the tension and the unhurried (some may say slow) narrative. If he is this at ease within the horror/mystery genre, then he should make this his playground more often.

Only slightly hindered by the temptation for one twist too many, there comes a point at which DiCaprio notes “I’m not following you, I’m sorry”, and as with the rest of his excellent performance I was right there with him. However, when the somewhat predictable pay-off comes, it is superbly handled and heartbreakingly played out.

Shutter Island is an intimate beast of a movie from a director let off the leash that challenges and rewards the viewer in every single department. Dismiss it as a B-movie genre offering at your peril.

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