Esteban Gonzalez’s review published on Letterboxd:
¨Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man? ¨
Shutter Island has all the right ingredients for everyone to enjoy this movie. First of all, it is directed by Martin Scorsese, the guy who brought us such masterpieces as Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York, and The Departed. Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors and he is always trying different genres, being original, standing out, but with his classic trademark direction in every film. This time he brings us this dark suspense thriller that traps us from the very beginning and hooks our attention up to the very end. Shutter Island is based on Dennis Lehanes`s novel of the same name. His previous two novels, Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone have also been made into feature films, and are among my favorite movies, especially the first one. If those two names alone are not enough for you to want to go see this film, then perhaps this might convince you: Leonardo Di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, and Ben Kingsley star in this thriller and give great performances. I did not have to see the trailer to know that I wanted to watch this film because I really admire each of the people involved in making Shutter Island. The weakest link perhaps is the screenplay writer Laeta Kalogridis who wrote Alexander and Pathfinder, two movies that bombed in the box office. The script does have its flaws, but the performances and the direction are what stand out in this dark thriller. The atmosphere and the mystery that Scorsese masterfully creates are worth the ticket price plus some really good performances from the lead characters make this a very enjoyable movie experience. This is not one of Scorsese`s best films, but that does not mean it is a bad movie either. Scorsese knows how to make movies and he does not fail with Shutter Island although he did take a huge risk with this film.
The movie is set in 1954 and like in all Lehane`s previous novels it takes place in Boston. U.S Marshall, Teddy Daniels (played brilliantly by Leonardo Di Caprio who seems to shine every time he works with Martin), has to investigate a mysterious disappearance that takes place in Shutter Island where an asylum for the criminally insane is located. Teddy is teamed up with Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), a Marshall from Seattle and together they have to solve the case in which a patient from the asylum named Rachel has gone missing. There they meet the psychiatrist in charge of the patients, Dr. Cawley (played by Ben Kingsley who absolutely nails his role once again) who seems to be hiding some crucial information in the case, as do most every other employees in the hospital. Dr. Cawley works alongside Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) who also seems very calm during the investigation. Teddy and Chuck begin to question nurses and patients but they can`t seem to figure out how Rachel has disappeared. During the investigation, Teddy has to battle with constant headaches and migraines as well with hurricane like weather, and he keeps on having visions of his dead wife, Dolores (Michelle Williams), telling him what he has to do. Torments of his troubled past begin to affect Teddy`s role in the investigation and as the plot thickens we discover that he wanted to be assigned to Shutter Island for other personal reasons because he believes some unethical treatments are taking place with the patients. This is where the puzzle begins to get more complicated for Teddy as he has to fight his own personal demons while trying to solve the case.
Emily Mortimer and Jackie Earle Haley also have small roles in this movie as patients from the asylum and do a great job. Much of the success of this film relies on the good performances from the entire cast. Leonardo Di Caprio and Ben Kingsley prove once again why they are such great actors as they make most out of a not too strong script. The story is interesting, but the script wasn`t able to fit all the pieces together as smoothly as I would have liked. Scorsese however is a master at his craft and really creates a mysterious and dark atmosphere so there are plenty of thrills and suspense spread out throughout Shutter Island. The twist at the end was kind of predictable, but it didn`t affect the outcome of the movie as it hooked my attention from the very beginning. Perhaps with a stronger ending I would have given it a higher grade, but it is a good film nonetheless. It is worth a watch because Scorsese and Di Caprio are back together again doing what they do best, even though this is not their best effort it is still better than most other thrillers that have come out recently.