By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount Pictures
Shutter Island is not a movie I would be interested in if it weren’t directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I just don’t care about the mysterious workings of a mental institution. But, I expect a Scorsese movie to be solid and anything that attracts DiCaprio’s interest to be A-list material, so I go in with that perspective.
Review: Shutter Island
It’s got the gumshoe vibe with DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo in trenchcoats and fedoras. Psychoanalytic banter is intriguing, but DiCaprio is already screaming when the movie begins, so how much further could things escalate? His interrogation tricks work on us too, making the audience antsy. Now that’s some filmmaking. Trying to play the patients’ game doesn’t work, reminding the audience that things can turn drastically at any moment.
The flashback visions are creepy and beautiful at the same time, making them haunting. The idea that the dreams give him clues is kind of lame, but that’s what happens in these kinds of stories.
The deliberate camerawork moves, revealing things in due time, tracking along long lines of people and spinning around, framing characters dynamically. I’m normally a fan of locking down the tripod and just keeping things in frame, but I appreciate when the fancy tricks actually serve a purpose.
There’s a lot of bloody, gory violence when the bad things happen, comparable to Scorsese’s other bloody scenes.
All this is to say that Shutter Island is as competent as one would expect from these professionals. If it’s a story that interests you, then you’ve got Hollywood’s best talent delivering it for you. It’s one of the better psychological thrillers of its genre. I can only appreciate it on a technical level because I just wouldn’t want to investigate this story on my own. It’s kind of an unpleasant place to spend two hours.