By Aaron Fenn
John Donne, a 17th century English writer once wrote, “No man is
an island,” meaning that human beings do not thrive when they are
isolated from others. The warden, guards, and creators of the
asylum for the criminally insane on Shutter Island must not have
ever heard of Donne.
“Shutter Island” opens with an immense amount of fog, allowing
the audience to barely see what lies just beyond the horizon.
Interestingly enough, the film plays out in a very similar fashion.
“The Departed” director Martin Scorsese illustrates how the things
that cannot be explained clearly by the mind are sometimes the most
The year is 1954. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Edward “Teddy”
Daniels, a United States federal “mah-shall,” sent to Shutter
Island with his partner Chuck Aule, played by “Zodiac’s” Mark
Ruffalo, to investigate the disappearance of a prisoner/patient
named Rachel Solando, Emily Mortimer. According to everyone in the
facility, Rachel’s cell was guarded around the clock and Dr.
Cawley, played with just the right amount of creepiness by Sir Ben
Kingsley, seems to think “It’s as if she evaporated, straight
through the walls.”
However, the disappearance of Rachel is only the first of
He suffers from reoccurring memories of war and extermination
camps, his wife who died from smoke inhalation while her apartment
was on fire, and the knowledge that the man responsible for the
death of his wife, Andrew Laeddis, is one of the 66 criminally
insane, patients on the island. To make matters worse, Teddy
progressively starts hallucinating more and more and wonders if
some of the things he’s seeing are actually real.
“Shutter Island” expertly messes with your head in its
137-minute running time and keeps you on edge from beginning to
DiCaprio and Scorsese are the two main people to thank for this.
DiCaprio’s performance is nothing short of brilliant. He has to
channel so many different emotions throughout the course of the
film and truly allows the audience to feel exactly what he’s
feeling at all times. DiCaprio will be picking up his fourth Oscar
nomination for this emotionally complex and challenging role.
And does anything really need to be said about Scorsese? The man
knows how to direct a film and creates a palpable sense of dread
and tension as Teddy navigates his way throughout the different
halls and corridors of the island’s asylum.
“Shutter Island” is a masterfully made psychological,
mind-puzzle of a film that will seriously get inside your head and
stay there. By the end of the film, it should be pretty clear what
has just unfolded on screen. Or is it?
Final rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Reach Aaron Fenn at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scorcese crafts masterpiece with ‘Shutter Island’
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