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Quick take on "Shutter Island"


"Shutter Island"

4 stars

When Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes on the case of a missing inmate (Emily Mortimer) at a foreboding island mental institution, he uncovers a conspiracy that shakes him to the core. And this is just the beginning of Martin Scorsese's new film, Shutter Island (based on the book by Dennis Lehane).

With its rich, moody atmosphere and operatic, Bernard Herrmann-esque score, Shutter Island is a nostalgic embrace of Hitchcockian horror. Fortunately, the film is not only an homage but a worthy addition to the genre in its own right.

Like Hitchcock, Scorsese understands that suspense never comes from the physical act of violence, but the threat of it. In his films, his characters, for the most part, keep their guns under the table so to speak. And in Shutter Island, the characters literally don't even have access to guns. This is a unique film for Scorsese in that it's more about mental intrusion and the violence that the mind can inflict on others - and oneself.

No one is better at evoking mental implosion than DiCaprio. Like his character in The Departed, Teddy is a walking ulcer living in dread. DiCaprio carries this film with ease and makes Teddy's paranoia our own.

Scorsese places Teddy in an unsettling yet artful world (stills from the film could easily be mistaken for gothic paintings) and surrounds him with equally interesting characters. There are great supporting performances from Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow and Patricia Clarkson.

These are just my initial thoughts upon seeing the film. Trust me, there is much more to be said about this intricate, disturbing thriller, so stay tuned for more blogs.

This is Scorsese's first foray into psychological horror since his brilliant remake of Cape Fear in 1991. I hope he continues to return to this genre for he deals with it masterfully.


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