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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Shutter Island: A complex thriller

<llowing in the footsteps of their three previous successes, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up once again for Shutter Island, released in theaters last Friday. The film was adapted by Laeta Kalogridis from Dennis Lehane’s best-selling novel of the same name and stars DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams and Ben Kingsley. It is set in 1954 at a hospital for the criminally insane, on an island off the coast of Boston.

DiCaprio brings back his accent from The Departed as U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, taken to the island with his partner Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) to investigate the disappearance of a female patient. Once on the island, Daniels begins to notice strange things about the hospital. He becomes convinced that the staff is hiding something and spends most of the movie trying to uncover it. The secrets of the island unfold slowly, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout.

Scorsese told the press how much he loved the suspense of Lehane’s novel.

“I’ve always been drawn to this sort of story,” he said.  “What’s interesting to me is how the story keeps changing, and the reality of what’s happening keeps changing, and how up until the very final scene, it’s all about how the truth is perceived.”

The actors echoed this sentiment, agreeing that the psychological aspects of the film are both fascinating and challenging.

In the press notes DiCaprio said, “I fell in love with the complexity of Teddy, with his search for the truth, which triggers something in him, and also triggered something in me.  I was profoundly moved at the end.”

Ruffalo was also intrigued by the film’s questioning of truth and the intricacies of its plot.

“At first, you think it’s just an interesting detective story but, as you go along, all these surprise events and layers emerge, along with rollercoaster twists, and the script turns out to be so many other things you weren’t expecting,” he said.  “Things keep getting stranger and stranger and it slams you into another world.”

Indeed, the movie moves from a simple mystery to a complex thriller that teases the audience with hints of reality, but does not establish the “truth” until the final scenes. The actors do a good job maintaining suspense, particularly DiCaprio and Ruffalo, whose relationship is tested when DiCaprio’s character becomes obsessed with revealing the hospital’s corrupt practices.

DiCaprio is especially impressive towards the end of the film, when Daniels is most vulnerable. Much of this may be attributed to Scorsese’s direction.
“One of the wonderful things about working with Marty is that he truly does love actors, and he loves to create a work environment with a big playing space where you can take things in many different directions,” said Ruffalo. “It was a very collaborative process.”

Scorsese seamlessly unites the threads of the storyline, bringing in important scenes from Daniels’ time in the Army and his relationship with his dead wife. He masterfully blends image and sound to create the island’s creepy atmosphere, with a haunting score supervised by Robbie Robertson and a murky, green-brown visual aesthetic.

Ruffalo added, “This film was like a playground for Scorsese’s virtuoso filmmaking. It’s full of fantasy sequences, flashbacks, period elegance, altered states, film noir and the supernatural, as well as a great character drama.  He gets to do everything he’s always loved about film.”

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