DiCaprio plays U.S Marshall Teddy Daniels who along with new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) head towards Shutter Island, a isolated location that holds Ashecliff hospital for the criminally Insane and they come to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Rachael Solando, a murderess who has inexplicably escaped from her cell.
Teddy however has an ulterior motive for visiting the island and wants to confront an imprisoned arsonist Andrew Laeddis who he believes was responsible for the murder of his wife Delores (Michelle Phillips) which he feels guilty for letting happen. Right from the start things have a sinister feel to it with a uncomfortable pounding soundtrack that escalates until they reach the gates of the hospital and the on edge guards the two Marshall’s come across on their journey to Ashecliff, it’s a wonderful build up and the beginning of an excellent psychological thriller.
The pair begin to investigate and start to face resistance from all the staff of Shutter Island and so Teddy Daniels reveals his true intentions to Chuck that he believes senior psychologists Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) are involved in unethical experiments on patients for military purposes based on information given to him by a former patient named George Noyce (Jackie Earle Haley) and with the mystery of the missing Rachael Solando the story starts to expand creating a rich and complicated story.
We witness in horrific flashbacks of Teddy Daniels time as a soldier liberating a Jewish concentration camp and murdering Germans which adds to Teddy’s ethical reasons for investigating the Island and mixed with the visions/hallucinations of seeing his dead wife Teddy starts receiving information that he is being drugged and a conspiracy builds that he is now being regarded as going insane to prevent the truth from getting out, who would believe the stories of a mad man? With partner Chuck going missing Teddy has to get a grip with his own mental state to solve the mystery of Shutter Island and expose the truth.
The film definitely requires deep thought to unpick the story and fully understand and appreciate it and a second viewing will make it a truly excellent experience. During the writing of this review I have further pieced together clues and have fallen in love with the genius of Shutter Island and even though it will bemuse a majority of viewers there is no doubt Scorsese has created a superb film both visually and dramatically.
The whole look of Shutter Island was wonderful, from the 1950’s detail which was authentic and the stunning location which was definitely taken straight from the book. There is a gorgeous storm that erupts causing a hurricane to hit the island and the feel of it was a visual joy to behold as it battered the Island and the genuinely creepy interiors of the wards and cells were dark and claustrophobic that added to the tension.
The cast is what really makes this film succeed with DiCaprio again showing why he is one of the greatest actors, and one of my favourite actors, of his generation pulling off a stunning layered performance that was thoroughly enjoyable and believable to watch. Ben Kingsley added a brilliant and darkly comical turn as Dr. Cawley, the legend that is Max Von Sydow plays the perceived villain of the movie and being a German comes top of Teddy’s hate radar and the solid as ever Mark Ruffalo is superb as Teddy’s partner. All make it a wonderful movie and pretty flawless in performance and definitely a reason why it’s such a joy to watch.
Overall It’s a film that has to be seen to be fully appreciated and probably one of the most difficult I’ve had to review due to its complexity and easiness to spoil. The fact is it’s directed by Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Max Von Sydow and if you wanted to see a film where everyone is on top form and will probably be a nominated film for next years Oscar’s then Shutter Island should easily be your next cinema trip.
Shutter Island is out on the 12th March.