Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are a dynamic duo of director and actor. They have collaborated on several movies in the past but their latest, Shutter Island, is their best effort yet. That is because they have drawn upon the brilliant mind of writer Dennis Lehane and his story is enhanced by Scorsese's directing and DiCaprio's acting. The result is a movie that will haunt you long after you have viewed the film and its twists and turns will cause you to shudder at the memories that are left.
The film is set in the fifties and opens with Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) on a ferry headed for Shutter Island. The two men are federal agents who are being sent to investigate the disappearance of one of the inmates at the mental institution on the island. The woman Rachel (Emily Mortimer) was at the asylum because she had murdered her three children.
Once on the island things go from bad to worse. Teddy is still recovering from the death of his wife Dolores (Michelle Williams) and keeps hallucinating that he sees her. She was killed in a fire caused by an arsonist named Laeddis (Elias Koteas). Teddy has reason to think Laeddis might be on the island somewhere.
Their stay on the island is prolonged due to inclement weather. The ferry can not come back until the weather subsides, and Teddy doesn't want to leave until the mystery of Rachel is solved. His investigation leads to more revelations the longer he is there.
The plot is so entwined and complex that no pre-revelations should be offered. The entertainment value of the script lies in its surprises - and there are many of them. Lehane, who also wrote Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, knows how to twist and turn his events until the big reveal at the end.
DiCaprio is amazing in his role as Teddy. There is a panic stricken aspect to this character from the very beginning but DiCaprio keeps these fears contained until the appropriate time. It is a controlled performance but also his wildest role to date. The depth of his talent has never been this fully revealed.
Still DiCaprio could not have carried the weight of this film without the help of such solid actors as Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson, Max von Sydow and Jackie Earle Haley as well as Williams, Mortimer, and Koteas. Each person gives just the right touch to a thriller that is so riveting the audience suspends rational thinking.
The film is rated R for violence, profanity and nudity.
Scorsese keeps a tight rein on his story and his actors, steering them in a way that enables them to give nearly perfect depictions of their characters. He also is patient in allowing the different facets of the plot to emerge in their own time.
This is a chilling film in its look and its storyline. The acting and the direction are first rate but it is Lehane's creepy story that makes it the viewing pleasure that it is.
I scored Shutter Island a shudder inducing 8 out of 10.
Jackie K. Cooper