The number is 26. That's the amount of Oscar nominations the last three major films Martin Scorsese directed - which all starred Leonardo DiCaprio - earned. The movies also collected approximately $700 million worldwide. Needless to say, the Scorsese/DiCaprio combination has been a critical and financial powerhouse, which makes the prospect of a horror-thriller such as Shutter Island so intriguing.
The movie, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, is not your typical horror flick, as one can expect. The movie doesn't have the same weight as his heavy duty Oscar contenders, but Scorsese brings the same scene-by-scene mastery as he always does. The film utilizes the beautiful visuals Scorsese has developed over the last ten years, but also, at times, seems like a mind trip version of Cape Fear. The first twenty minutes explode with a powerful score that sounded like something right out of that Robert De Niro-nominated thriller. The picture is intoxicatingly engaging at times.
DiCaprio, as expected, turns in an exceptional performance. Not much can be said his acting abilities - time and time again he proves he is one of the best actors working today. His performance isn't the best of his career, but it's still Oscar worthy - not that he'll be nominated (he almost never is). DiCaprio is supported by a great cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley.
The movie, though not scary, is an extremely effective psychological thriller. Scorsese blends reality and dream sequences so well, layering his story with intricacies few directors would even attempt. The picture is superb in every sense of the word, though that doesn't mean everyone will like it.
SPOILER ALERT. Shutter Island ends with a large twist, one that isn't completely unpredictable. I wasn't sure, but I suspected it early on, and the twist may disappoint those looking for a more standard thriller. The twist is of the type I normally don't like, but Scorsese pulls it off; similar twists have been done in the past, and Shutter Island may be the best of the bunch. Oddly, the fact that I suspected the twist earlier on may have lessened the shock of it in a positive way; if it had come out of nowhere, the tone of this review would be quite different.
Unfortunately, the twist won't appeal to everyone.
The guys behind me described the movie as a "waste of money," presumably because they were either expecting something scarier, or something more routine. I wouldn't have minded either, but that shouldn't detract from what Shutter Island is: a very good movie.
Shutter Island is neither Scorsese nor DiCaprio's best movie, but for its genre it is a force to be reckoned with. Given the source material, the movie won't be for everyone, but it is still a slickly done, exciting and intriguing psychological thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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