Friday, February 19, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island

Eleven miles off the coast in Boston Harbor is Shutter Island a place where the really bad of the bad of the criminally insane are being treated.

A women goes missing and Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) of the US Marshals are called in to investigate the disappearance. This woman murdered her three children and doesn't acknowledge that she killed her offspring, she treats the facility like its her home in the Berkshires. As Daniels attempts to investigate he gets stalled by Dr Crawley (Ben Kingsley) and Dr Naehring (Max von Sydow) who refuse to turn over inmate and staff records. As severe weather barrels down on the facility Daniels investigates further the motives and methods of the doctors is called into question on Shutter Island.

Martin Scorsese directs this movie. After The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Departed and now Shutter Island, this is the fourth time Scorsese has directed DiCaprio. The movie has tight shots give a claustrophobic feeling following Daniels. When the winds blow and the rain pours down, you almost feel wet yourself. With the topic of mental illness and trying to figure out what is real from what is fake there are shots that jump back and forth. Continuity is not always facing forward. You wonder what is happening drawing you into the story as the image perspectives move about in setting and reality.

While questioning inmates Daniels and Aule get the feeling that something isn't right between people giving almost verbatim answers to questions or getting nervous when certain other questions are asked. They question if Crawley and Naehring are hiding something. Aside from trying to find out what happened to the missing prisoner, excuse me patient as Dr Crawley keeps reminding Daniels, he has ulterior motives for being on the island. His wife was killed in a fire set by a fire bug. Daniels has tracked him down to Shutter Island and is looking for him. In a series of dreams we meet Daniels wife Dolores (Michelle Williams) who gives him warnings. Daniels background as a solider during WWII who helped liberate Dachau are shown in flashback sequences. The images of Holocaust victims discarded as trash have an impact on Daniels bringing his own state of mind into question. Nine years had passed since Daniels helped with Dachau's liberation and the images still haunt him.

Can a crazy person prove they're sane? Can a sane person prove they're not crazy? Can a psychiatrist make a sane person crazy? How good are they at helping crazy people become sane. With Dr Naehring, a former Nazi on staff, are experiments from the days of Nazi experimentation part of Dr Crawley's new methods of treating the mentally ill? As the story line got further in depth, what was real, what was imagined, who is sane, who is crazy, what is really happening there at Shutter Island got convoluted. This is a thinking movie to try to follow and I have to admit that my brain hurt trying to keep track of everything and may need a second viewing to catch all the details put into story.

Some of the images are tough to look at between images of concentration camp captives and poor treatment of the 1950s mentally ill including slight nudity. This earned the movie an R rating for the two hour eighteen minute presentation. Heavily present in the movie is smoking; it seems to be in a number of movies lately. Even though tobacco is a legal product a disclaimer stating that they weren't paid to portray tobacco usage is tacked into the credits. Alcohol can be just as detrimental to a person's health and yet they don't put any disclaimers about alcohol products and byproducts disclaimers in the credits. I wonder how long it will be before that has to be put in there along with the no animals were harmed disclaimer.