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Shutter Island

A 2010 thriller directed by Martin Scorsese.

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Scorcese Is an Island

  • Feb 21, 2010
  • by
Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Directed by Martin Scorcese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley

Warden: If I were to sink my teeth into your eye right now, would you be able to stop me before going blind?

From the moment this ominous ferry emerges from the thick fog to bring Federal Marshalls, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule (Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo) to Shutter Island in the opening shots of legendary director, Martin Scorcese’s SHUTTER ISLAND, you know you’re about to watch a masterful movie made by a mindful man. It is instantly and unavoidably intriguing and it isn’t long after the boat docks that you realize you have as little chance of getting off this island as everyone else there, at least not with your wits about you.

Teddy and Chuck are on assignment to investigate a missing prisoner, I mean, patient, on Shutter Island.  The mistake and the correction are made a number of times in the film as it is simply never really clear whether Shutter Island is a correctional facility or a mental facility.  Whether there even should be a distinction for these particular prisoner-patients is up for debate just like the intentions of every character we meet on this island.  Scorcese makes it so every man on the island is out for himself; even Teddy and Chuck just met as new partners on the ferry over.  Subsequently, paranoia and mistrust run rampant in everyone’s mind and each day becomes a balancing act with each person’s personal sanity walking a very tight rope.

SHUTTER ISLAND takes place in 1954, when applied psychology was at a distinct crossroads between older, more barbaric means of treatment and more modern prescription methods to dealing with madness.  One of the head doctors on Shutter Island, Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) claims to not subscribe to either school of thought in favour of a more sympathetic approach that relies on the belief that it is actually possible to get through to the mind of a mad man.  Despite this, he will not allow Teddy and Chuck to enter the heavily-guarded Ward C, where only the most dangerous, uh, patients are housed.  This lack of full disclosure makes it hard to imagine that everything happening on this island is happening according to protocol.  Perhaps it is but then what is the established island protocol anyway?

It becomes clear to Teddy that his time on Shutter Island is not meant to be limited to just this investigation.  A case is being built against him to show him as just as crazy as every other patient there, effectively silencing any evidence he uncovers in his investigation.  But while it may be clear to Teddy, it becomes pretty clear to the audience that nothing on Shutter Island is as it seems.  What is the truth and who is actually telling it?  Better yet, will we even believe it when we hear it?  The answers do come and they are as unsettling as every other moment in this tight two and a half hour production. 

As it is put forth a few times in SHUTTER ISLAND, to accuse someone of being insane is truly all you need to do to make it a fact.  All protest made by the accused will be seen as logical dismissal of the accusation but not a valid argument against it.  Scorcese knows the same rational will apply to the way the viewer will see the film, making visiting SHUTTER ISLAND such a deliberate and delicate mind trip.  You may even wonder in fact whether you too don’t belong there by the end.  This is what makes Scorcese the undisputed winner of his own elaborately designed game.

Scorcese's is an Island Scorcese's is an Island Scorcese's is an Island Scorcese's is an Island

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March 01, 2010
Great review! I love the quote at the beginning of your review, which makes a lot more sense by the end of the film!
February 22, 2010
Nice review, Joe.  I spotted this on Lunch's FB fan page, so congrats!  I love Leo and I love psychological thrillers, so I'll need to check it out.  Thanks for sharing!
February 24, 2010
Definitely do check it out and thanks for pointing out the FB love. I had no idea. Kinda cool.
More Shutter Island (movie) reviews
review by . February 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ + Stars: INTO THE DEPTHS of a Fractured Mind...Lies Denial and Guilt
   The last time I remember watching a Martin Scorsese directed pure suspense thriller was some years ago with the remake of “Cape Fear”. This time around, the acclaimed director together with screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis adapts the novel “Shutter Island” for the big screen. I haven’t read the book but I can safely say (according to my research) that fans of the book will be glad to know that the book’s basic outline is intact with only one scene added …
review by . March 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Shutter Island Movie Delivers Confusion, Suspense, and an Extremely Poignant Ending
   I am not a fan of Martin Scorsese, and I went into the movie not knowing that he was the director. I also saw this film without having first read the book. Despite these circumstances, I did enjoy the movie which offered endless turns, twists, and confusing scenes into the past of the main character played by Leonardo DiCaprio.      The opening sequence was brief and basic. There was the title Shutter Island in bold gray letters, and then the film started, which …
review by . July 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Rofolo are Federal Marshalls that arrive by ferry at Shutter Island.  This is a correctional facility for the criminally insane.  They were sent to investigate the escape of one of the "patients" in the facility.  On the way there DiCapprio seems to be seasick and at times he seems to be seeing weird things.  He keeps having visions and dreams of his dead wife and things that happened around a Nazi concentration camp.   …
review by . March 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
How far are you willing to fall down the rabbit hole?  What would you do if you started hearing voices that weren't really there? How would you react if you saw something standing before you that you knew all too well could not and/or does not exist?  Psychological thrills toy with your senses and allow your mind to fall down some of the deepest, darkest holes that exist without any real affect.  Some times they are wildly successful, and other times they become a joke all on …
review by . December 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Ghosts and demons
The setting: 1954. A deliciously forboding rocky island 11 miles from Boston, home to a mental institution for the worst of America's criminally insane. The plot: Two federal marshals arrive as a storm is brewing, to investigate the disappearance of one of the patients. It soon becomes clear to the cops that it's not just the patients who are spinning tales around here. The ambience: Gloomy, gothic, and menacing. Cast and characters: Leonardo DeCaprio as senior investigator Teddy Daniels, …
review by . January 11, 2011
Shutter Island - 2010
Pros: DiCaprio and Scorsese, a great duo      Cons: none for me      The Bottom Line:    "Lord, this bitter earth   Yes, can be so cold   Today you're young   Too soon, you're ol"   ~Dinah Washington      The Movie:   Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are U. S. Marshalls, traveling to Shutter Island, off the Boston coast, to find an escapee.  Shutter Island houses …
review by . February 24, 2010
Step trhough the gates of Ashcliffe and into a place of pure madness and chaos....
Have you ever had a dream that was impossible to wake up from, you felt like you were falling and falling   but you never seemed to hit the ocean below. Sometimes in our lives, we hit such a point in our lives that everything seems unreal to us that were just living a big dream   day in and day out. Martin Scorsese's psychological horror thriller "Shutter Island" explores those ideas and how sometimes even when everything in our life may seem out of place, may seem …
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What Pompted You to write a Review?   A survey     How was the Plot, Acting, Direction?   The plot and acting in this movie was outstanding.  One of Leo's best movies by far.     Were You ENTERTAINED?   I was on the edge of my seat the whole time while watching this movie, and it kept my attention throughout the whole movie.     Did It Fulfill Expectations? Hype Level?   This movie surprised me as well …
review by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Shutter Island is one of the most well crafted psychological thrillers to come by since Silence Of The Lambs. And it is no coincidence both were brilliantly written novels. Shutter Island is adapted by a book written by Dennis Lehane (wrote gone baby, gone and mystic river). It is a book filled with twists and turns, that will leave the reader dizzy. And, that is what it's film counterpart does to the fullest. Martin Scorsese helms the director chair, in a movie where he is more …
review by . October 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Thriller fans rejoice
Shutter Island is the latest film from genius director Martin Scorsese. It tells the story of two US Marshalls sent to a psychiatric facility to investigate the disappearance of one of the patients. While there he uncovers a dark plot surrounding the mysterious facility. Now with time against him and no one to trust but himself he embarks on a mission to expose the truth. But he soon finds out that when someone has a secret this dark they will go to great lengths to keep it that way. Shutter Island …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #8
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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About this movie


Shutter Island is a 2010 thriller-period drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. Production started in March 2008. Shutter Island was originally slated to be released on October 2, 2009, but Paramount pushed the release date to February 19, 2010.  Paramount head executive Brad Grey blamed the recent economic downturn as the main decision behind the delayed release date.

     Poster art for "Shutter Island."

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Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: February 19, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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