Monday, February 22, 2010

Rover Film Review: Shutter Island

Shutter Island

Directed By: Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Casino, Goodfellas)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed, Blood Diamond)
Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Sir Ben Kingsley (Suspect Zero, Gandhi)

Rating:Rated R for disturbing violent content, language and some nudity.
Running Time: 138 minutes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Martin Scorsese returns cinema to an older time in the genre-crossing, well-acted, and superbly paced Shutter Island. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Federal Marshal, Teddy Daniels, a man with a dark past sent to a maximum-security insane asylum to investigate the disappearance of dangerous patient. His acting has clearly reached a zenith - as he plays a strong Boston official one minute and a man besieged by his past the next.

Once on the island - a wonderfully depicted and shot hellhole - he joins forces with his new partner, Chuck (an equally good Mark Ruffalo) as they seek to uncover the truth, even as Dr. Cawley (Sir Ben Kingsley) alternatively helps and hinders their efforts. As they deal with the darkness of the human mind, the darkness of nature erupts stranding them in a hurricane on the island.

The film is not fast and yet extremely riveting. It shines a flashlight beam of light on the dark questions of insanity, crime and punishment, reality, and the problem of evil. Teddy is racing against time, against those on the island, and most importantly, himself, in seeking to uncover the truth of what is happening on Shutter Island. Scorsese does throw open the shutters for the audience as the film reaches its climax, exposing the truth, but leaving the philosophical questions to linger. As the last line of the film goes: "Is it better to live as a monster or die a good man?"

Scorsese refuses to reveal his answer, but moviegoers are left with a satisfying film which pays homage to the great films of the past. While neither too scary nor too dull, the film has one or two rough scenes and violence permeates the island (which is home of course to the criminally insane). The score lifts the audience up and carries along with the narrative setting the mood perfectly. All in all a superb film which should garner serious attention come next year's Academy Awards.

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