Scorsese + DiCaprio = this year’s first best movie

His first narrative feature film since directing the Oscar-winning movie The Departed, Martin Scorsese reunites for the fourth time with Leonardo DiCaprio in the film adaptation of author and FIU alumni Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel, Shutter Island.
Set in 1954, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is assigned to investigate in the disappearance of a female mental patient (Emily Mortimer) with his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). However, they must travel by boat to the last know whereabouts of the missing person, which happens to be an island that houses an asylum for the criminally insane. As they investigate further, they find the head doctor (Ben Kingsley) uncooperative when it comes to requests for patient records and with a category five hurricane approaches, Teddy begins to sense something sinister is occurring on Shutter Island.
Martin Scorsese is not a stranger to the thriller genre as he directed the 1991 remake, Cape Fear and Shutter Island shows that he certainly has not lost his touch. Scorsese pays tribute to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, visually with the scenes that involve Teddy’s flashbacks and hallucinations that is creepy, shocking and violent. A long panning camera shot that involves the execution of several Nazi soldiers is a work of a filmmaking genius, along with the images of blood and scattered papers in a scene that shows a failed suicide attempt of a Nazi general. Scorsese uses his filmmaking talent in order to keep the audience on their toes at all times because he creates an atmosphere that carries an ominous mood, dark tone and dangerous perils for Teddy and Chuck to overcome.
The ensemble is tremendous in Shutter Island as everyone who has a role in the film does a great job with their performances, especially Leonardo DiCaprio.
As DiCaprio keeps working with Martin Scorsese, it seems to me that his acting gets better and his characters that he portrays get more complex from his roles as the eccentric Howard Hughes in The Aviator and undercover cop looking for his identity in The Departed. DiCaprio turns in his most intense performance to date as a man caught in a labyrinth and questions his sanity as his partner disappears and the doctors seems to conspire against him to keep him on the island. By the time the movie ends, the moviegoers’ perception of Teddy will be radically different from when they meet him at the beginning of Shutter Island.
The combination of Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow are both in full-creep mode as the main physicians of the asylum with any dialogue that they deliver carry a deliberate and menacing tone. Michelle Williams plays a pivotal but small role as Teddy’s deceased wife, Dolores. Her first appearance in the film starts out as Teddy’s vessel in order to solve the case, but her constant appearances to Teddy become more of a warning of what is come in terms of his fate on the island.
As the story progresses and many puzzle pieces begin to come together, the big reveal is not surprising if you look back at the events that has transpire before. Some people who might have big expectations for a thriller in the vein of The Silence of the Lambs will be turned off by what it ultimately is, a complex and intriguing character study of what happens to a man who suffers from too many tragedies in his life. The ending could be another turnoff for the casual moviegoer as we learn that Teddy predetermines his own destiny. Shutter Island might be appreciated better with a second viewing for moviegoers in order to keep up with the clues that lead up the film’s surprise revelation. However, the trailers and the TV spots for the film does not do the film justice as it is not just a psychological thriller, but the tale of Teddy’s intense and traumatic journey that will change the perspective of the character by the time the end credits roll.
Shutter Island is the first best film of 2010 as it is a complex and emotional ride that is anchored by Martin Scorsese’s masterful direction and a powerful performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.

SHUTTER ISLAND: 5 stars out of 5

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