Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shutter Island

Shutter Island; crime/ thriller/ mystery, USA, 2010; D: Martin Scorsese, S: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, Elias Koteas

In '54, US Marshall Edward Daniels and his new partner Chuck arrive via ship to Shutter island, designated to treat patients in a mental asylum led by Dr. Cawley. They are there to investigate the disappearance of a patient, Rachel. Edward explains to Chuck that he wanted to get this case because he suspects Andrew Laedis is there, as well, whom he suspects of starting a fire that killed his wife Dolores. Edward investigates and presumes the island is being used by the government to experiment on patients in order to create a secret mind control program. Just as Edward storms a lighthouse, where he suspects the experiments are being done, he only meets Dr. Cawley who explains that he suffers from a mental illness, caused by Dolores killing his children, whereupon he actually killed her. Edward is actually Andrew and just imagined he is a Marshall in order not to confront himself with the bitter truth.

Martin Scorsese's 22nd feature length film, mystery drama "Shutter Island" did not leave such a trace in the history of cinema as his earlier films, yet it is a well made, clever and very bold achievement that demonstrates that the director still has a "reserve" of craftsmanship. Based on the eponymous novel by Dennis Lehane, cozily set on an isolated island where something suspicious is going on, "Shutter Island" starts off as a film noir, only to quickly abandon all its traits and turn them on their head, providing bizarre scenes (Edward's hallucinations and nightmares) and moments that at first seem "out of place" (Edward's recollection of his mission as a soldier who freed the inmates from the Dachau camp in World War II), blending those elements with paranoia and conspiracy theory genre, which also seem "chaotic" at first, only to align into a harmonious whole at the fantastic 'twist ending' that explains everything down to a T. The labyrinth structure, where the viewers are not quite sure if Edward is hallucinating or if the events are real, already gives a hint to the resolution of the puzzle, but it is staggering nonetheless once it sets in. A similar twist ending overlaps with "The Ward", but it has stronger resonance here: rarely has there been such a sly commentary and jab at the "conspiracy theory" mania which spreads through the (today's) masses, putting them to rest by simply explaining how people invent all sorts of excuses, explanations and wild beliefs just to dodge the obvious, the uncomfortable truth that affects them personally. Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese's new "De Niro", gave a very good, if not excellent performance as the troubled hero.


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