Shutter Island Review by Sam

It’s been over a week since I have actually seen the film, and due to moving and more moving, this review has been quite delayed. Nonetheless, here it is, in all its glory.

Shutter Island

First off, let’s have a look at the potential of this film. It is directed by Martin Scorsese (Director of the greats such as Goodfellas, The Aviator and The Departed) who is renown as one of the greatest directors of our time. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, and what an actor Leo has proved himself to be, especially over the last decade, starring in films such as The Aviator and Blood Diamond, (both which have garnered him with Oscar nominations). Finally, it is based off the best selling novel of the same name by author Dennis Lehane, who also penned the novel version of the classic film, Mystic River.

So, Shutter Island had a great potential. And did it prevail? Heck yes it did!

When I heard of another Scorsese/DiCaprio vehicle was underway, I was extremely excited, and I could not wait to buy myself a ticket and watch this movie as soon as it hit the screens. But, days before I saw this film, I was told that it was extremely lacking, and a disappointment. So I walked into the cinemas, still excited, yet not expecting the greatness I was about to witness.

I was a massive fan of this movie and almost every single element about it. The direction was great, the acting was solid, the cinematography was outstanding, and the soundtrack was one of great suspense.

In a nutshell, Shutter Island is about two U.S. Marshalls who come to “Shutter Island” in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient. It is revealed that, for various personal reasons, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) has been trying to get an assignment on the island for quite some time, and through a series of quite startling events, a shocking and twisted ending is revealed, of which I will leave you in suspense.

Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio

Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio

This “confused” experience I went through allowed me to understand the poor feedback I had heard from people prior to me watching the film. I now know that if they watch the movie again, they would appreciate it as much as I do.

I must confess that, initially, when the film was in its final 10 minutes, I was quite confused, not knowing what was going to happen next. Even when the film ended, I found myself staring blankly at the screen trying to figure out what had just happened. After an extreme thought process occurred in my mind, and a helping hand from some of my friends who had understood more so than me, I finally understood everything, and I knew that this film was a masterpiece.

Let me make a comment on the direction and some of the decisions Scorsese made. I found it interesting that a lot of the scenes had quite a lot visually, but minimal audio elements. This served as a real unique type of filmmaking, as you could see, for example, rain pelting down, although you could barely hear a few drips and some footsteps. This actually served the atmosphere brilliantly and allowed for a great sense of suspense.

As stated before, the actors did a great job portraying their characters in a way that beautifully supported the story.

Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio

(From left to right) Ben Kingsley, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo

Aside from the brilliance of Leo, Mark Ruffalo did exceptional as Teddy’s sidekick, Chuck Aule, and Ben Kingsley did a great job of portraying the mysterious “boss” of the mental asylum. These performances further enhanced the greatness that Shutter Island was.

I would also like to make a further comment to the cinematography. Robert Richardson, who has worked on films such as Platoon, JFK and The Aviator (the latter two he won Oscars for), did an amazing job at both capturing the sinister dark tone of the interior buildings, and also displaying the beauty (in a strange way) of the Island the film was set.

All of the aforementioned elements added together give me an easy task of rating this film 4.5 film reels.

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2 Comments on “Shutter Island Review by Sam”

  1. Dear Sam,

    Thankyou for your insightful comments re: Shutter Island. I must admit I have not yet seen the film- will hopefully sort that out this coming week- so I will reserve my comments re: the film for a later time.

    My other comments are as follows.

    I can’t help but think, no matter what the quality of cinematography or acting, or amount of rain followed by minimalist sounds effects- which served to create a “great sense of suspense”- your favouritism for Leonardo De Titanic and Martin Scor-Crazy were always going to win out. I’m not suggesting that the combination is not a successful one, but may I suggest that you leave your Team Scorsese love at the door, so to speak. Tell me this, without Leo De “Look jack I’m Flying” Capricorn – which I’m guessing is his star sign (and that you probably know that)- do you think the film would have been such a “masterpiece”?


  2. filmstank Says:

    Hi David.

    I appreciate your comment, and understand your feelings and thoughts towards my love for DiCaprio and Scorsese. Naturally, we all have favorites, and these 2 happen to me some of my biggest favorites. And yes, I do think that the fact that they participated in the film increased my willingness to see it, and most likely my overall love for the film.

    Let me say this though; Initially I felt the film had let me down, hence highlighting the fact that Scorsese and Leo did not save the film alone. It was not until I realised the extremities and greatness of the story did I find myself loving the film. I always do like particularly good cinematography, and find myself having more respect for a film with great cinematography as appose to average cinematography, thus highlighting this was also an element that enforced my love of the film.

    Appreciate your comment Dave, look forward to hearing more from you!

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