Here we have another case of me jumping on the bandwagon of adoration; I'm not doing this because it's trendy, but because I genuinely enjoyed this movie. As a matter of fact, it's one of my all-time favorites and I recommend it to anyone I can. Even though some uptight critics say that it's too recent to become a notable entry, I do believe this movie is the perfect example of very good film-making. On towards the fangirling!
US Marshal Teddy Daniels is sent to Shutter Island to solve the case of a missing pacient by the name of Rachel Solando, who escaped from the hospital for the criminally insane situated on the aforementioned island. He begins investigating but is soon faced with a suspicious attitude from the staff and the other patients. With an impending hurricane forcing him to remain on the island, Teddy uncovers dangerous secrets that involve not only Rachel, but himself as well.
Teddy Daniels and partner Chuck Aule discuss the case on the way to Shutter Island.
This is what I would call a complete movie. Excellent mood: throughout most of the film, the pacing is intense and when it does slow down, it provides tense scenes instead. The mood is generally bleak and depressing, fitting to the theme. The colors and contrast contribute to this: most of the time, the surroundings are dark, damp and dirty, with very dark interiors lit only by candles, dim lights or a stray ray of sunlight.
Despite the open setting, the island proves to be a cause of claustrophobia, since Teddy is forced to remain on it until the hurricane passes. This creates the feeling of being trapped and, at times, hunted. Throw in Teddy's flashbacks of Auschwitz and his family and you've got the very definition of mindf**k. Also, on the second viewing (if you do decide to view it a second time), you can observe lots of symbols (fire, water, eyes - an entire essay can be written on this!) that can be treated as clues to how everything will wrap up.
The ending provides a satisfactory conclusion; all the loose endings are tied. Of course, it is possible to predict the twist if you pay close attention to each and every scene, but it's not worth missing the forest for the trees. There are two widely acknowledged interpretations of the ending, mentioned below; however, whichever way you swing, you're guaranteed to find something to debate when you finish watching. There's a lot of material and, while Teddy's fate is crystal clear, a few questions still remain concerning events leading up to the end.
Concerning the acting, I couldn't be more pleased. Leonardo DiCaprio shows his full potential, proving he isn't just the pretty boy from Titanic and that he can carry a solid role. Excellent performance from Ben Kingsley as well, perfectly creepy in the role of Dr. John Cawley. The other cast members do a good job too, so the acting is top notch.
The first search party for Rachel Solando isn't too enthusiastic.
For the first time, I can't find anything to complain about. Maybe the internet wars concerning the ending, which I will detail in The Plain WTF.
The Plain WTF (spoilers about the interpretation of the ending)
There aren't any true WTF moments per se, so I'll talk about the internet phenomenon instead: it seems a lot of people were confused about the ending. Which side should we take, the sane or the insane one? To me, the answer is obvious, but let's just say it proves how good the movie is, if people are still debating it. (You can find the entire "debate" on the IMDb.com board: link).
Strangely, Teddy doesn't get full support in his investigation.
Warden: We wage war, we burn sacrifices we pillage and plunder and treat at the flesh of our brothers and why? Because God gave us violence to wage in his honor.
Teddy Daniels: I thought God gave us moral orders.
Warden: There is no moral orders as pure as this storm. There's no moral order at all. There's just this: can my violence conquer yours?
Teddy faces not only an unusual disappearance case, but also his troubled past.
Verdict and recommendations
Just two words: beyond awesome. Kept me guessing all the time and, while the twist ending can be predicted, I suggest you turn your brain off and enjoy the ride; it's a unique experience, I can say this for sure. I strongly recommend a second and maybe even third viewing to get your thoughts in order: on the first viewing you inevitably follow only the plot, in the others you can concentrate on the details more.
And as a side note, I don't think a movie had me bewilderingly saying "f**k!" so many times in a row since Saw.
My rating: (10 out of 10)
Shutter Island (2010) on IMDb.com