Shutter Island

Year: 2010
Studio: Paramount
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Laeta Kalogridis/Dennis Lehane
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Max von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Jackie Earle Hayley, John Carrol Lynch, Elias Koteas

Scorsese leaves gangsters and iconic figures behind and even though the look of this film is so distinctive, he keeps his personality right out of the frame, instead lovingly channelling Hitchcock.

The production design, score and aesthetic mood are bleak and gothic as US Marshals Teddy (DiCaprio) and new partner Chuck (Ruffalo) are on their way to a forbidding mental institution on an island in the drab waters off Boston in the 1950s to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from her locked cell.

But from the moment they land and meet the amiable but slightly scary doctor in charge (Kingsley), it all turns very Lynchian, the plot peppered with talismans and Macguffins that will keep your mind ticking over while the dark, gothic mood carries you away.

Teddy suffers both headaches and nightmares from his various traumas like his wife dying in an apartment fire and his being one of the first squads to liberate Dachau. But as he and Chuck make their way around the grounds, hindered by an increasingly uncooperative staff and with a huge storm bearing down on the island, we get more clues that all's not right with either the whole situation or Teddy himself.

The entire movie is a process of setting up the clues for the big payoff and the crazy camera angles, moody setting and very bombastic music combine to keep you on the edge of your seat trying to figure it out.

The script isn't quite as smart as all the other elements though, it just tricks you into thinking it is. Having the whole shocking truth laid out in a single expositionary sequence is a lumbering, inelegant trope and on a second viewing fewer clues than you thought will stand up to scrutiny.

But everyone involved no doubt enjoyed themselves, particularly Scorsese getting his twist on. The only thing that's starting to worry me is the onset of boredom I already feel whenever Johnny Depp works for Tim Burton. If Scorsese can't direct any other leading man besides DiCaprio, he'll end up cast in a worthy project he's completely wrong for and scuttle the whole thing.

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