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Shutter Island (2010) Review

Shutter Island? More like, Nutter Island. That’s about as feasible a joke I can make after sitting through Shutter Island for the first time, a Martin Scorsese film I’ve been evading for the better part of a decade. A film that has a surprising amount of attachment in larger groups of audiences, Shutter Island doesn’t seem like a film my generation would cling onto and speak so highly of. Out of all the friends I have that have seen the film, four of them have said it was, at some point in time, their favourite film. There was no denying the strengths of its cast and direction, but the best film of all time? Surely, they can’t be serious. 

Or at least, I hope they weren’t. While Shutter Island is a truly mind-bending film with an astounding level of detail hidden away in the shadowy depths of the titular island, it is far from perfection. An engrossing thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall who travels to a mental institution after the disappearance of one of the patients. Accompanied by partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), the two stay hot on the trail of the disappearing mental patients, but, as you’d expect, not all is as it would first appear. 

As expected, we get a simply fantastic performance from every actor involved. The leading duo of DiCaprio and Ruffalo works tremendously well, with two of the finest working actors bringing out some of the best performances the two shall ever provide. More so DiCaprio than Ruffalo, with Chuck merely supporting many of the scenes Daniels appears in, stuck in the shadow of the leading man. It’s deservedly so though, ad DiCaprio out-performs everyone around him in yet another successful, leading role. Ruffalo hangs around delivering the odd bit of detail here and there, but much of the screenplay heavy scenes are shifted straight to DiCaprio. 

Shutter Island doesn’t exactly feel like a Scorsese film. It’s certainly him in the director’s chair, but a handful of his tropes are absent. The still camera shots throughout Goodfellas are absent, and the film on the whole feels much more grandiose and bolder. Scorsese puts himself in the backseat for this one, experimenting with much more simplistic shots and cinematography in the hopes of focusing and honing in on his mystery-oriented thriller. It does work, the sacrifice in the artistic department really strengthens a story that, with solid direction, works truly well.  

An exceptionally directed, brilliantly performed piece of film that lingers on the mind for an uncomfortably long while afterwards. Shutter Island really is a great piece of film. By far not the best Scorsese film available, but a frankly necessary palette cleanser for those infatuated with his frequent dabbling’s in the mob movie genreReally got my noggin’ joggin’, and I can give a film no greater praise than that.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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