Title: Shutter Island
Language: English, German
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Max von Sydow
Jackie Earle Haley
John Carroll Lynch
Scorsese and DiCaprio’s fourth collaboration, SHUTTER ISLAND is an on-the-edge-of-the-seat nail-biter, a period thriller situates at the titular island near Boston in 1954, a patient mysteriously disappears from the mental hospital on the island, draws the investigation of US marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his subordinate Chuck Aule (Ruffalo). But on the sly Teddy volunteers the task under a more personal motivation, he is after a pyromania who is responsible for the killing of his wife Dolores (Williams).
But little does he know, what he experiences will turn his whole sanity upside-down, and blur the dichotomy between realness and illusion, in doing so, it also challenges audience’s judgement of taking sides, a brainwashing hoax or an unorthodox therapeutic manoeuvre, and the ending testifies there is a right answer“Is it better to live as a monster or die as a good man?”. Teddy is obsessed with his conviction that the island is surreptitiously doing immoral experiments on their patients, to reform and manipulate their minds, due to his own military history during WWII and the trauma caused by Dolores’ death, it seems rational enough for us to open a sympathetic ear for his pursuit, yet Scorsese deployed many evident glitches along the suspenseful narrative to suggest otherwise (with transitory editing tricks). When a hurricane sweeps the island and leaves no one exit the island, the film goes into a murky maze to screw up Teddy’s mentality, the dream episodes where Dolores recurring as an ashen ghost and the horrific massacre in the WWII front comes to fore with indelible gore and grimness; the return of the missing patient Rachel (Mortimer) who is a murderess killed her three children, and the ominous lighthouse where the truth is insidiously hidden, not to mention the unusually odd atmosphere between Teddy and the rest of the people (the staff and patients), all indicate that it is too big a scheme to be covered up by a single conspiracy theory.
The uniformly engaging DiCaprio brings about consistent effort to lead or mislead us into his consciousness as a heroic marshal in order to divulge some unscrupulous activities, counterbalances the interventions of the film’s not-too-subtle indications, his committed endeavour is the driving force and all the supporting group is equally strong, Clarkson and Earle Haley leave great impact in their short appearance as either a red herring or a truth betrayer, Kingsley and Ruffalo disguise their real intentions under a restrained pleasantry, while von Sydow unleashes a layer of vile confrontation, which enchants the entire enigma with a more mysterious and befuddling aura. But by and large it is a Martin Scorsese’s film, a brilliant genre piece coherently inveigles its viewers to immerse into its maelstrom and exit with a thorough emotional catharsis, which is definitely not every industrial hack is able to achieve!