Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Madness Martin Scorsese Style

Martin Scorsese has been thrilling movie goers for many years. His last thriller, "The Departed" had everything going for it, big stars at their peak, up and coming stars and even a few that have since become a household name. The Departed, though splendidly wicked was tame compared to his latest, a movie that will essentially keep you on the edge of your seat. I consider Scorsese the master of suspense, and "Shutter Island" based on a novel by Dennis Lehane gives you thrills right from the start. Adapted for the screen by Laeta Kalogridis, the film weaves in and out of flashbacks, hallucinations, and fantasies, and plays with time and our very own notion of reality.

Set in 1954, the disappearance of a patient, multiple murderess Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer) at Ashecliffe Hospital, a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane, brings the Federal Marshal's to investigate. Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are working together for the first time. Once they dock on Shutter Island, Daniels hidden agenda slowly comes to focus. He is a widow, whose wife was killed in an arson fire set by an inmate at Ashecliffe. The men in charge of the facility are Dr. Crawley (Ben Kingsley) and his partner Dr. Naehring (Max Von Sydow) both look as guilty as the cat who ate the canary.

Grounding the film in realism is DiCaprio’s intense portrait of a World War II hero who’s also battling personal demons of his own. His dead wife Dolores (Michelle Williams) appears in his dreams to warn him of impending disasters. Ben Kingsley also offers a spellbinding performance as Dr. Cawley who hides one of the island’s biggest secrets. Max Von Sydow plays another mysterious figure, Dr. Naehring. Daniels immediately dislikes him, only because he is of German decent. What is sure to be my favorite among the supporting cast is Jackie Earle Haley as the mysterious George Noyce. A man whom Daniels has interviewed in the past, the man who stared Daniels on his investigation of Ashecliffe in the beginning.

Scorsese, using the same theme as he did in Taxi Driver, sets the mood early on as we set out to learn about a man who slowly comes to believe he is losing his mind. The topic that Scorsese wrestles with here is one that is prominent in today's society, what do we do with the people that for one reason or another lose site of reality and either become a threat to themselves or others? I for one am glad that Scorsese didn't drag out a soap box and lecture us on this injustice. To say that the movie contains a little twist is an understatement, if you have read the book than you will be glad to know that Scorsese didn't trample on his right of artistic license and completely change the story or the outcome. And I can't say enough about the fact that we don't get that sappy Hollywood ending where the good guy always wins, nor do we get the whole plot explained to us from a to z. Leave it to the genius of Scorsese to make us think.

I give Shutter Island a 3 and on my avoidance scale I'm giving it a 0, this is based on the fact that this intelligent thriller is directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is just plain good. This isn't the type of movie to take you girlfriend to see nor is it recommended for young children. It contains some nudity and some violence, but not enough that it should turn you away. This is a very well made movie, right from the opening sequence where we see the boat coming out of the fog, only Scorsese would take the time to give us that little tidbit.

Shutter Island is rated R for Disturbing Violent Content, Language and some Nudity
Running time is 2 hrs. 18 mins.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures