The Truth is in There
2010 must have been a dream for Leonardo DiCaprio quite literally because not only did he star in "Inception" where he played a man who could go into peoples' dreams he also starred in Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" which saw him play a man who is plagued by nightmares which blur the line between real life and fantasy. And that is the thing about "Shutter Island" as whilst it starts off with DiCaprio's character investigating the disappearance of a woman from a secure hospital for the criminally insane it soon becomes a movie which messes with your mind as you try to work out what is real and what is fantasy. It's one of those movies which draws you in to the case of the missing woman whilst also suggesting all is not as it appears, throwing extremely subtle clues at you as you begin to suspect nothing is as simple as it first seems. And it works because whilst you do come to suspect nothing is as obvious as it first appears you are constantly trying to work out what is real and what isn't looking for the proof to validate your assumptions.
The year is 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio = The Departed) is on the case of a patient who has vanished from Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He wanted the case and with his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo - Zodiac) take the ferry to the island where the hospital is located. But when he gets there all is not as it seems because not only has Teddy got ulterior motives for taking the case and getting on the Island he's also heard rumours that Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley - Dave) and his team are doing some strange government backed experiments on the patients. But when a storm hits the facility and patients manage to escape in the chaos Teddy struggles to make sense of everything, struggling with nightmares of his dead wife and doubting whether what he sees, remembers and even his own partner is real.
One of the clever things about "Shutter Island" and there are a lot of clever things, is that it starts off with this solid storyline about a woman suddenly vanishing from Ashecliffe hospital and Teddy and his new partner making their way there by ferry to investigate. It's solid enough that you do wonder how this woman could have managed to escape from her secure room and where she may have gone whilst also making you think there is more to it than it seems. And that more comes from Teddy not only trying to track down a criminal who killed his wife but also that he suspects that the doctors at the hospital are doing dangerous experiments on the patients.
But that is only the introduction to "Shutter Island" and before long we become aware that things are most definitely not all they seem especially as Teddy not only has vivid nightmares where his dead wife visits him but he also suffers from hallucinations and flashbacks to serving in the war. It means that whilst on one hand you are still questioning what is happening at this secure hospital and what happened to the missing woman to the point you wonder whether it is some sort of cover up you also question whether what you are watching is real or fantasy. And as such "Shutter Island" becomes what sine call a "Mind Fuck" movie where than line between reality and fantasy becomes so blurred you are not sure at all what is what. You are looking for the clues and trust me the clues are in there, but right up till the credits you are still in doubt, still questioning what is real and what is fantasy.
It's no wonder that "Shutter Island" is one of Martin Scorsese's most successful box office movies because it is a case that when you've watched it once you want to watch again to spot the clues and piece it all together. Now the thing is there are a lot of subtle clues which hint to the truth, glasses and cardigans are just two of these clues to watch out for which help make sense of it all. But rather strangely it's not all so subtle and their is an almost falseness to some of the scenes on a visual level which suggest that this isn't all as simple as it seems. What I mean is that there are scenes where the blending of a character to a background doesn't look natural, it looks too sharp and vibrant and is one of the reasons why you think all is not as simple as it looks.
Whilst Scorsese crafts yet another impressive movie, it is Leonardo DiCaprio who carries it beautifully and in many ways seems to have taken over the mantle of Scorsese's favourite actor. DiCaprio delivers that edginess of Teddy Daniels the man who is haunted by what happened to his wife and as such is suffering constantly from the visions yet he also gets across the element of a Deputy Marshall investigating the case of the missing patient. It's because of this almost bipolar character where one minute he is deducing what has happened the next battling his painful memories that you are lead to question pretty much everything you see.
DiCaprio delivers such a spot on performance that he once again over shadows the rest of the cast although Mark Ruffalo does a nice job of playing his partner Chuck and Ben Kingsley is wonderfully mysterious and creepy as Dr. cawley. In fact Kingsley feels and looks like he has come out of an early horror movie, moving ominously around with what looks like heavy eye liner and bow ties. But whilst there is no bad performance it's a shame that when you have an actor of the calibre of Max Von Sydow he makes little impact in what is nothing more than a cameo, the same can be said of Emily Mortimer who just doesn't get to shine. I know that supporting characters aren't meant to be the focus but it just seems a waste of such talent.
What this all boils down to is that "Shutter Island" is yet another good movie for both Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. The storyline draws you in nicely to this case of a missing patient leading you to wonder what sort of strange things are going on at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane before then messing with your mind as you try and work out what is real and what is fantasy. It's the sort of movie that when you've watched once you want to watch again just to try and spot the clues and work it all out.