director: Martin Scorsese
starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams
Scorsese’s billing on any movie typically renders it a must-see, though Shutter Island doesn’t seem like his typical fare. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, has a story more akin to a Saturday afternoon pulp detective matinee (does that reference make sense?) than an epic tale of multiple characters and events over the course of a decade or so (see: GoodFellas, Gangs of New York, etc.). The story itself is entertaining, sure, but it ain’t exactly Bill Shakespeare. All that said, Scorsese’s “must-see” billing is the product of his deft directorial style and ability to portray characters meaningfully enough to make you care and invest yourself in their dealings, and such is the case with Shutter Island. This while managing to tell a story that keeps the characters and audience off-balance throughout — everything feels a bit “off” during the precedings, and along with the nature of the story, imparts a sense of foreboding and increasingly unbearable tension up until the film’s climax. You’re never truly at ease watching Shutter Island, and that’s a good thing.
DiCaprio’s as good as ever, but I’ve never found him “right” for any of his roles, perhaps other than Catch Me If You Can. I think my main problem with him stems from him looking more like a teenage kid than an adult. His characters have often suffered from that lack of “adult-ness,” despite his abundant talents in the acting department. He’s good enough to make you forget it most of the time, but it sticks out anytime I see him in a film. He manages to bring off Teddy Daniels’ descent into madness (or perhaps ascent into sanity) convincingly.