An isolated mental institution off the coast of Massachusetts.
Surrounded by armed guards, jagged coastline, freezing cold ocean, and an electrified perimeter. And from this place, a prisoner has escaped.
So it’s up to Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck (national treasure Mark Ruffalo) to try and get to the bottom of things. And what they find is a majestic conspiracy that springs from a world where madness doesn’t cause atrocity, but rather comes from it. It’s a hard-hittin’ 50s-style melodrama as only a devoted cinemaphile like Martin Scorsese could make it, and it’s
You know how Casino isn’t as consistent a film as Goodfellas, but it has that mad visceral emotional kick to it that makes it into a wrenching and indelible experience? Well, Shutter Island is like that.
Allow me, for just a moment, to sing the praises of Patricia Clarkson.
Conjured as if from fire itself, she is but one of the many one-scene wonders in the film, as if Scorsese assembled his supporting cast like he was gearing up for the All-Star Game. But Clarkson is like the incarnation of righteous anger in this film, and I like the way she tackles her role. Similarly, you find phenomenal work from Ted Levine, Jackie Earle Haley, and a near-unrecognizable Elias Koteas, each of whom serve as a piece of the puzzle.
And Shutter Island is a puzzle film, just not the kind that the studio would like you to think. Not the kind that we’ve seen gain ascendance over the past decade. This isn’t like The Sixth Sense or Memento- it isn’t a contest. In fact, the earlier you figure out the shocking twist, the better. Because that’s not what the film is about. It’s the kind of operatic dive into the infrastructure of guilt that Martin Scorsese does better than any other American filmmaker, and he continues to do so with style and class.
Also, the end credits music, a blend of Dinah Washington's "This Bitter Earth" and composer Max Richter's "On The Subject of Daylight," is absolutely majestic- the finest film music experience I've had so far this year.