I know this one will generate some controversy simply because this is another ‘solid colors’ situation where people either like it or dislike it. While it is impossible to say that “Shutter Island” is one of Martin Scorcese’s greatest achievements, that is not such a bad thing considering the legendary director’s astonishingly stellar resumé (now entering its FIFTH decade, no less) includes “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas” and “The Departed.” As far as I can tell, this is still one of the most expertly constructed films of the year.
Leonardo DiCaprio collaborates for the fourth consecutive time with Scorcese in this psychologically thrilling piece of work. What begins as a story of two people (DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo) sent to investigate a mysterious disappearance from a seemingly secure insane asylum in the Boston Harbor gradually shifts into something much bigger. True colors begin to show within DiCaprio’s character Teddy Daniels, disturbing dream sequences and flashbacks continue to pile up and Teddy’s surroundings almost begin to shift right in front of his eyes.
With one of the more challenging narratives this year, Scorcese puts together something that has tendencies to be simultaneously thought provoking, thrilling, frightening and enthralling. Supporting roles from Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams and especially Jackie Earle Haley add to the general presentation while the film’s ever-changing atmosphere keeps you on your feet at all times.
Having seen it twice this year, I can also give it credit for holding its ground upon repeated viewings. Even though you are now aware of the events that take place, you can take a step back and really learn to appreciate the little things that make a difference. The soundtrack (which is incidentally not composed of original tracks) strikes the perfect notes in each scene (the track “Root Of An Unfocus” scares the ever-loving crap outta me), the direction is pitch perfect and the script is vastly dense and intriguing. “Shutter Island” is indeed a mind-bender, but a terrific one at that.