by Brendan Wahl

“Shutter Island”

Leonardo DiCaprio as…Teddy Daniels

Mark Ruffalo as…Chuck Aule

Ben Kingsley as…Dr. Cawley

No spoilers. Don’t worry.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. By my count, this is the fourth collaboration between the director and his new favourite actor but I haven’t really heard any complaints. The two complement each other very well not unlike how Scorsese had Robert De Niro in seven of his previous films and the chemistry remained rock-solid between the two. Some people have general complaints about directors and actors working too much together, but I say as long as they keep making quality films, what’s the problem?

Here, Scorsese imports a number of talented thespians alongside DiCaprio in the form of the underrated Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow, and many, many others. I believe that DiCaprio is the only Scorsese regular as all the others appear to be making either their first or maybe second appearance in a Scorsese flick.

So, back to the actual film. The story here is a fairly simple one at first. Agents Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule travel to a place called Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a girl named Rachel Salondo, a patient on the island who has somehow escaped her barricaded cell while wearing no shoes and during high tide. At the same time, Daniels has some personal baggage. Years ago, his wife was killed by his crazed landlord who started a fire in his own building. But any plot details after that will be left for the viewer to discover on their own.

The interesting thing here is that this film doesn’t feel like a typical Scorsese flick. I’m not saying that in a positive or negative way, but just saying that it has a completely different look to it that separates it from most of his other films. The atmosphere is tremendous in the flick though and the look of the film reflects the changes in plot, twists, turns, and other such plot devices very admirably.

The story is one of the film’s many strong points as we don’t get a lot on our plate to begin with to allow the film to slowly unravel more and more of the plot as we continue to coast through its running time (which, by the way, didn’t feel like 138 minutes). I understand the film was based on a book and, much like Youth in Revolt, I did not read said literature.

The acting here is wonderful as is usually in most Scorsese pictures. DiCaprio is wonderful in the title role here, grounding the character in reality and really playing to his emotions well with a whole lot of range to spare. Mark Ruffalo brings the goods as well in probably and unfortunately the closest thing to a lead role in a great film that he’ll ever have. Ruffalo plays his character as mostly straight, but does so with such conviction that you care about him and follow his actions every step of the way.

Then we get to the old codgers of the film. I’ve been a fan of Sir Ben Kingsley for a while now and here, he takes a character that could’ve been portrayed by a lesser actor chewing the scenery, but Kingsley underplays it nicely. There’s something brewing beneath his demeanor and we get that from the slightest movements he decides to make as an actor. Max Von Sydow is another wonderful actor and though he doesn’t appear a whole lot in the film, he makes the most of his screen time and delivers a layered performance.

There are also some great bit performances to look out for like the great Jackie Earle Haley, Michelle Williams, and also Patricia Clarkson. They are all very small roles, but very key ones so keep your eyes peeled for them. I would also note that this is not the type of film that you can just get up from and use the bathroom whenever, but no matter. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to get up from it until it is all wrapped up anyway.

What can I say? The film is another wonderful one from Martin Scorsese (and his ensemble), who continues to deliver quality year after year. I, for one, hope to see Martin and Leo team up again more than once!

DEFINITELY worth peepin’.

8.5/10

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