It is a gorgeous film—full stop. It has an engaging narrative—and unlike their first collaboration in 2002 with Gangs of New York– features a terrific lead performance from DiCaprio- who is in every scene
As we start out the film pulls us in immediately as we’re in medias res on a rocky boat heading for an ominous island
No actual musical score- pieces pulled from other material—but the main theme certainly sounds like Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception (which oddly enough is another 2010 film starring DiCaprio—not sure how this happened).
The set-up feels like Fincher’s The Game meets Nolan’s Memento with a bit of Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor thrown in. How good does that sound? It’s pulp—but so is The Departed, Cape Fear and other films in the Scorsese oeuvre.
a stunner of a low-angle Wellesian shot of Ruffalo, DiCaprio and John Carroll Lynch
sumptuously shot by Scorsese and DP Robert Richardson (with production design by Scorsese go-to Dante Ferretti)—standout jaw-droppers include the landscape shot of the lighthouse, the papers falling in the flashback of the WWII Nazi’s office, the hallway filled with Green (Scorsese’s use of green as Eden and red as Hell) and the silhouette shot in front of the chain link fence in the rain below—all of these make for one of the single most exquisitely photographed on the wall at a museum films of 2010
when the beauty of the film isn’t taking your breath away you have performances by some of the best actors working from Ruffalo (yes underused here), Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, and Patricia Clarkston just to name a few.
For DiCaprio this is partly like his Howard Hughes role (Teddy’s backstory is loaded, lots of baggage and highly emotive) and partly like a Bogart role as he’s a grizzled tough detective.
Another sign it’s a great film is how rewatchable it is even if you know the twist ending. Many films of this nature don’t hold up. I will admit though, the extensiveness of this “role play” hoax makes for a leap of faith here when judging how well this narrative works or not. It’s a lot to swallow with the number of people involved, scaling rocks, etc but again we don’t fully know what’s real and what isn’t and again, DiCaprio is all in here- selling hard and it works.
A Highly Recommend top 10 of the year quality film
Great read, couldn’t agree more with it. The setting – the gloomy, stormy reality contrasting with the flushed, yet strange unwholesomeness of Ted’s dream alone make it worthy of praise.
Scorsese uses fire depict scenes (usually revelatory (confrontation with Rachel Solando) or plot furthering) which are being hallucinated by Ted or a part of the huge ruse being played out and water to show that the scenes are grounded in reality. There is a galore of references and Scorsese’s recurring eloquent colour treatment symbolical of Hell and Heaven.
Despite the visual treat, a wonderful Leo performance and the brilliant ending, it remains to be one of the underrated movies of Scorsese’s oeuvre.
@JC – thanks for the comment. It makes for a really nice addition to the page.
Really enjoyed this film, but must say, Scorsese seemed to try a little too hard in some places to be arty. Scorsese’s strength is narratives and stories, not Dreams and psychology like a Lynch or Kauffman.
Hard disagree. Scorsese is much more concerned with the visual expression of character subjectivity than straight narrative storytelling. Whether it’s the slow motion in Taxi Driver, the expressionistic Sugar Ray fight in Raging Bull, the ecstatic design of the Copa shot in Goodfellas, the overt lighting effects of Age of Innocence and The Aviator, or indeed the nightmarish effects of Shutter Island, Scorsese has always been more associated with subjective visual style than narrative
That’s not what I meant, obviously he’s made many masterpieces and they all have visually amazing parts, like the cops shot in GoodFellas. What I’m talking about is the Dreams in shutter island. I thought those were pretentious.
Copa scene, not cops
[…] Shutter Island – Scorsese […]
Can’t believe it took me so long to watch this one. I knew it was known for having a twist ending and to be honest I was pretty sure about what it would be about 40 min in but even so did not really weaken the overall viewing experience. This is quite different than any other Scorsese film, very atmospheric almost like a Polanski film. Speaking of which there is a shot near the end of Ghostwriter (same year 2010) similar to a shot pictured on this page above with all the papers scattered in the air. Visually it may not be at the same level as say The Age of Innocense (1993) but I actually don’t think it’s that far off. There are some gorgeous shots, musuem quality for sure.