Shutter Island (2010) Poster

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No one likes to be messed with.
Connor Stednitz21 February 2010
Shutter Island. A film that will divide the film community. A film that will leave many upset, and hating it. A film that has already completely split the critics. A movie that messes with you. And no one likes to be messed with. And that is exactly where it exceeds. Think I'm contradicting myself?

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 free than any before. This is Scorsese at his most unrestrained.

Marty takes what he has learned from the great films of the past and puts it into his. The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock's influence is everywhere you look in this film. And it is no wonder, considering Scorsese even showed one of his greatest works to the crew: Vertigo. And many of those ideas are present in Shutter Island; the cliff scenes scream Hitchcock. This is a film that creeps and crawls, and is filled with dark corners. And it is all heightened by the coming storm that looms over the island. This is classic film noir.

The story follows Teddy, a federal Marshall, and his partner Chuck (Played by DiCaprio and Ruffulo). They go to this mysterious island enveloped in fog to investigate an escape. From these opening scenes, Marty has set up a dark and creepy premise.

Almost the whole movie incorporates this story as Teddy desperately tries to find the truths he seeks. Teddy is shown as a scared man; a man of war and violence as portrayed in various flashbacks. These will go on to be increasingly important as the story progresses. We follow Teddy on his quest, through every dark corridor and perilous confrontations. Slowly, we are given pieces to the puzzle, but the audience does not even realize it. For we, like Teddy, are blind. For the moment at least. It is because of this that the thrilling conclusion will leave many blindsided. But, you see, that is where this thriller becomes something more. We as the audience are put in Teddy's shoes, and we feel all the things he feels. It is a complete assault on the senses, and it works beautifully.

This is a film you must watch carefully. That is another thing that sets this apart, it is a horror film that makes you actually think. In this day and age, I'm not surprised some found it terrible esp. after their brains have been turned to mush by these new gore filled horror films. Scorsese's ultimate goal here is to wake you up. And trust me, you probably wont like it.

This is also a film I would recommend seeing a second time. In fact, it is even better the second time. All those pieces of that puzzle you didn't catch the first time, you will the second. You see, we as the audience are first put in the shoes of Teddy. The second? Well, without giving too much away, lets just say you are put in someones else's shoes entirely during the second viewing.

Shutter Island. A film that will make you question your own sanity. A film that will leave you breathless. A film that has re-ignited the thriller genre. A film that will leave you, and the main character, searching for answers.

10 out of 10

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All it Takes is One Line of Dialogue to Make an Impact...
TheDeadMayTasteBad23 February 2010
There is one line of dialogue, right at the end of Shutter Island before the credits roll, that elevates the emotion of the film and makes it much more powerful. For those of you, like me, who read and enjoyed the novel before seeing the film and felt that the trailers and advertisements for this film were leading you to believe there wouldn't be any narrative surprises in store, think again! Scorsese's film features that one brief piece of dialogue at the films conclusion that results in an entirely different perception of the final act. The rest of the film, however, is very faithful to Dennis Lehane's already great story.

Shutter Island represents exactly what one should hope for when seeing a novel being interpreted to film. While it certainly does the source material justice, it also adds small changes that make for a distinctive experience. Even if you've read the novel multiple times, you'll feel like you're reading the book for the first time again while watching. Scorsese perfectly recreates the menacing atmosphere of the island on film. Every location is foreboding and drenched with hints of unseen danger in dark corners. The lighthouse, the caves, the civil war fort housing "the most dangerous patients," and the island itself--every locale seems large yet claustrophobic and isolated at the same time.

I often experience claustrophobia myself and there are certain films that really capitalize on that personal fear and make it more relevant and eerie to me. Neil Marshall's The Descent was one such picture, and this is another. An confined island is a terrific horror location and it comes with its own type of fear. The utter desperation to escape from a persistent and confined nightmare is something Teddy (Dicaprio) is receiving in high doses, and so does the audience.

As with Scorsese and DiCaprio's previous collaborations, this is a movie that must be seen. Here they explore the horror/thriller genre with gravitas, with no small part played by Laeta Kalogridis in supplying the screenplay. While most modern pictures of its kind lack character or any real sense of suspense, Shutter Island doesn't go for cheap gags. I concur with Ebert when he says one of the key elements to this film is that it releases its tension through suspense instead of mindless action sequences. That's not to knock a well-deserved frenetic scene of violence every once in awhile--it works to the advantage of some films like Evil Dead II and Planet Terror--but had Teddy and Chuck gone running and gunning through the facility's faculty, the mood this movie keeps in check so well would have been lost.

However, that mood isn't sacrificed and "spooky" is punched up to full force. A considerable amount of that spooky is generated by a "best of" collection of actors that have mastered the art of creepy: Ben Kingsley, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, and Max Von Sydow just to name a few. Had Tom Noonan been thrown in the cast as well, my "Top Five People I Would Not Want to Be Left in the Dark with, Especially in a Room with No Doors or Windows" list would have been completely exhausted. On that note, is it just me or has Sydow mysteriously not aged since The Exorcist? Was there a secret pact made between Lucifer and Father Merrin? Whether he sold his soul or not, he's quite ominous in every single scene he is present in. All of this great talent in front of the camera doesn't mean anything though if you don't have a faithful orchestrator behind it. Luckily you have Scorsese leading the lens and he points the movie in the right direction, even if this isn't among his very best works. His style works amazingly with suspense laden projects and at times he even seems to channel Hitchcock and Kubrick, though there's always something distinctively Scorsese about the presentation. I found the editing in the opening scene, with Chuck and Teddy approaching Shutter Island, to be very odd and frantic, though I think the audience will know why Scorsese displayed the scene the way he did after completing the film.

With a body of work so impressive, Shutter Island is among captivating company. The good news is that Shutter Island carves out a place of its own in his resume. While no Goodfellas or Raging Bull or Taxi Driver, I have no problem placing Shutter side by side The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead. The cinematography is bright and gorgeous. Scorsese doesn't rely on the over-grainy, ugly presentation that most modern horror or suspense-riddled thrillers rely on. He uses lush, bright color during daytime and dream sequences to flush out a distinct feeling of terror.

Shutter Island isn't just a pretty face, its also got a great story to boot and this is why I've been anticipating the film for so long. As mentioned earlier, I've been exposed and digested the source material myself before seeing the movie. I was worried the trailers for the film were giving away too much through their spots on television and on the silver screen, but Scorsese has added enough to the film for the story to feel fresh even for those "in the know." You are transferred in the films paranoia and phobia once the camera pans through the mental facilities open doors. Lehane is one of the luckiest authors on the planet to have his work adapted to the big screen by talents such as Eastwood and Scorsese, but his work is brilliant and deserving of such treatment.

At the risk of spoiling plot points for potential viewers who have not read the book, I'll leave a Related Recommendations section concealed in "Spoiler" tags. Discussing this story at any length can be quite revealing.
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Shutter Island is at the top of its genre
napierslogs22 May 2010
Martin Scorsese has done it again. He pays attention to every detail in this film, making "Shutter Island" one of the best suspense thrillers of all time.

Visually intriguing, simplistic and absolutely phenomenal. The story is kept simplistic enough so it doesn't get absurd, but allows for an ending which you probably won't see coming. The film doesn't go for cheap thrills, so although you will be on the edge of your seat you won't get needlessly scared.

The film uses everything at its disposal from breathtaking scenery, to detailed laid-out shots, and to actors at their finest to completely engross you in the film. I loved every minute of it and highly recommend it to everyone. Even if you're not a usual fan of the genre, this film has so much more to it.
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I can't look away...
dvc515916 April 2010
Finally, a horror/thriller that actually, genuinely scares the crap out of you. Not because it has fancy villains in masks or sadistic buckets of gore throughout. No, it scares you because it messes with your mind. Most will hate this movie, they don't like their brains being tampered with. I loved it. It's what we needed after all those gory R-rated and sometimes lame-duck PG-13 horror crap-fests.

The horror/thriller genre has been raped lately, with gore and scantily clad- women replacing the noir and terror that Alfred Hitchcock perfected in the '50s and '60's. Here director Martin Scorsese delivers in full blast, crafting a thriller in his own unique vision. The atmosphere throughout the movie is tense and unsettling. Slow as it may be, but it is crucial to the movie and it's genuinely gripping. Your attention WILL not be lost. The scenery is beautiful and finely done with no excessive lighting, grain or darkness. The editing by Thelma Schoonmaker is fluid and pitch-perfect, and never makes the film lose focus. The movie is based on a book by Dennis Lehane and is packed with twists and turns that will leave you breathless and uneasy. The movie cranks the breathlessness and uneasiness up to the power of 5. The music is also perfectly suited with the scenes. There is sometimes no music during suspenseful moments, and sometimes the music makes the scene even more disturbing and memorable. Alfred Hitchcock's noirish thriller style is back with a vengeance, here to teach today's moviegoers the REAL meaning of suspense and horror.

All the actors in the movie are in top-form. Once again, you can't go wrong with a Leonardo DiCaprio/Martin Scorsese collaboration. As the protagonist, we the audience are thrust into his shoes and we are about as confused and scared as his character is, we feel what he feels. It becomes a psychological trip that poses many, many questions about oneself, that to discuss them here would spoil the entire movie. There are some flashbacks in the movie, but all of them are important clues to DiCaprio's character. DiCaprio gives a stunning performance, once again tempting the Academy to give him another Best Actor nomination. DiCaprio gives a vivid portrayal of a vulnerable, haunted and ultimately terrified man. Apart from DiCaprio there's really not much I can say about the supporting cast, because they are all also terrific. Ben Kingsley; Mark Ruffalo; Michelle Williams; Max Von Sydow; Jackie Earle Haley; Emily Mortimer; Patricia Clarkson; Ted Levine; Elias Koteas; John Carroll Lynch. All of them.

In short, this is a psychological and frightening masterpiece that will make you scared, will make you think, and will make you seek psychological help. This is one of the best films of the year. See it, go in with an open mind and prepare to be blown away.

Overall value: 9/10.
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Of all the movies in theatres to see, this is worth your time
slothhead5417 February 2010
I just saw Shutter Island this evening, just prior to its American release. I have to say this film was full of intrigue. Prior to viewing this film I had built a preconceived notion of what this thriller was going to be like because I was fooled yet again by good marketing when watching the trailer. This is probably not the movie for your average film-goer who wants an easy plot line to follow and little thought required. This movie does challenge the viewer physchologically and definitely holds your attention all the way through. For someone who was never much of a Leonardo fan, his performance is brilliant, so much range to his character. In fact all of the acting in this film is excellent. The directing is probably the best quality to this film. I always enjoy watching a film that is as unpredicatable as this film and where the director has turned the plot line on to his viewer.
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Don't miss this one - review from a skeptic.
bain003819 February 2010
From the look of the trailer, Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" looks more like a horror film… This is a dangerous place where isolation rules under fascist control. A U.S Marshall is sent to an asylum to investigate a missing patient but discovers so much more. A demon? A ghost? Something more? Is this going to be as disappointing as I think it is?

I was skeptical walking into the theater, wondering if this twist could hold water. The film starts with Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck, standing on a ferry. They talk about their assignment. What's suspect here is that there is no additional development. We are bam, smack right into the story without so much as an opening montage. All that we see is the men smoking a couple cigarettes. Though this is what begins as momentous development. As our hero smokes we that this isn't the glorified top lit smoking of a beauty or that of a sophisticated and confident gangster. We see that this is a harsher character with poor posture, someone who doesn't sleep well, someone with a deep past…

They are greeted at the gate by guards whose attitudes' seem immediately suspect. Soon we meet Dr Crawley, a seemingly complex and modern man who runs the asylum. However, he soon turns uncooperative with the investigation. Inmates and staff are hiding something but what? Everyone here seems off. Evidence and clues begin to appear but not before our hero seems riddled by psychosis himself. "You act like all this madness is contagious." Daniels says to the guard. Is it? Soon we begin to wonder, too, but not before he uncovers the tip of the iceberg and it's not only painfully intimate with his own past but also a mass conspiracy. The Nazis had concentration camps and the Americans have Shutter Island.

Though, it doesn't stop here, but to say anything else would do the story injustice… Kingsley is in his finest role in years. Similarly, DiCaprio reaches new levels. Amongst others Elias Koteas, Ted Levine, Michelle Williams, all play small but wonderful roles. Robert Richardson captures a world all of its own.

While Scorsese is a master of film I'd say that his specialty has been more character than story. This is a fresh balance of both. It's a mix of noir and thriller. It's only sort of a horror movie and could be compared to "The Shining" but it makes it look like it's a one trick pony.

All this praise being said it's not for everyone. The story is complex. It takes some attention. At times it's a bit bleak and dire. Of course it all makes a little less sense when you actually think about it but then again that's film. There are a couple of moments where the story gets lost within itself. Things become a bit too complicated. At this point you might begin to lose faith in its viscosity, but don't worry because the story has you right where its put you.
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Great a must watch !!
Mister Nelson23 February 2010
I saw this and I knew what to expect going in to the film as I had already read about half of the book but never got the chance to finish it. But I was surprised at how faithful the film was to the original material.The directing was also masterfully done and pretty cool I saw some cool camera tricks I hadn't seen since Martin Scorsese directed Bringing Out The Dead, Martin Scorsese did one great job and everyone was top notch especially Ben Kingsley and DiCaprio and I never though I would jump out of fright especially in a Scorsese film but I did. All in all a solid thriller with a good story and some great performances and for me it's the best film I've seen in 2010 so far.
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Another Excellent Film by Scorsese...
Trevor Todd16 February 2010
Really, Scorsese should just give it away for anyone. The man is one of the most brilliant directors of our time. Anyway, let me get to the actual movie; I just saw it at a early screening and have to write this while I'm thinking about how stunning it was. Shutter Island is certainly not a typical film, not even for Scorsese. It is a different take for the director, and he does it, as he does every film, perfectly, so much as to be in his own league of film-making. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say this: Shutter Island was completely unexpected, and a great start to 2010. It had all the components of a great film, and then some. The acting is spot on from every character; none of it seems forged or out of place. The script is fantastic; it has one of the most intriguing plots I have seen in a while (exception being Tarantino's Basterds). Everything, down to the set's lighting, was perfectly executed. I will say that not everyone will like this; Shutter Island, again, isn't your typical movie. To those, though, who do choose to see this film, be ready for a compelling, gripping, thought-provoking experience, so much so that you might think to see it again for further clarity (I know I will; it was so entertaining and my mind was blown!). Don't be surprised if you see this at the next Oscars...
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Don't be side tracked by the obvious twist.......there is more than one
Tania_Chesala_R27 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I know there is already a spoiler warning up top but I am going to warn you again. Don't read this because I am going to give everything away.

I had this movie all wrong I will admit at the start I didn't get it and I was angry but after having a chat with my friend who went with me we both gasped when we realised what happened. The twist wasn't that he was the inpatient (seriously I think everyone saw that coming from a mile away!) the twist was the intervention actually worked. He was cured, he deliberately made it look like he relapsed because he did not want to live with the memory of what happened to his family. He blamed himself for ignoring that his wife was clearly unstable. The line "would you rather die as a good man or live as a monster" Depicted he wanted to die as a good man (lobotomized) then live with the memory of what happened. Also the symbolism of fire and water tells you when he is hallucinating (fire) and when he is lucid (water trickling through.) The delusion he concocts to save himself from accepting the truth is that his wife died in a fire. All the people he talks to surrounded by fire is a hallucination – the woman in the cave, the patient in the cell, the scarred faced man who he thinks killed his wife, the car blowing up – all a delusion. The water symbolizes reality trying to break through. He is afraid of water – ( and rightly so!His kids were drowned, they all died in front of the lake.) Also at the start he says he gets 'sea sick' – he is mortally afraid of water. He has to swim to get to the lighthouse.

To truly get the best affect of this movie you have to see it more than once. (I have only seen this once but I promise you I will see it again)

I think John Anderson from the Wall Street Journal got it right when he says the film -

"requires multiple viewings to be fully realized as a work of art. Its process is more important than its story, its structure more important than the almost perfunctory plot twists it perpetrates. It's a thriller, a crime story and a tortured psychological parable about collective guilt."
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Counting down the days until I can add this to my DVD collection...
IamtheRegalTreatment19 February 2010
Similar to my rating for this film, you can argue that 9 out of 10 people who watch this movie, it will not be their first Scorsese film. Most of us know the genius that he is and coming into this showing we should expect brilliance, and gladly he delivers a captivating storyline driven by great acting. Unfortunately with the release of Shutter Island was also a press release that Taxi Driver may be remade, so that news made me hesitant to care, but I'm glad I was wrong.

Shutter Island is the story of Teddy Daniels, A U.S. federal marshall sent to the island with his partner Chuck Aule to search for the disappearance of a patient. Each scene provides a turn against their leads and compels them to look for more whilst searching in places we couldn't comprehend, including their minds. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo feed off each other and supply great performances for their characters as expected, but some of the other characters whose names are riveted on the posters or marquees are sensational as well. The two that stuck out to me most were Ben Kingsley (Dr. Cawley) and Michelle Williams (Dolores, Teddy's wife), each of whom brought so much dramatics and new questions to the movie, developing plot twists and controversy. I don't think this film would be the same without them.

Even to begin explaining details of the plot and how everything comes to fruition causes me to feel migraines alike the ones Teddy gets in the movie, therefore I won't ruin anything for you now. Take my honest word that if you enjoyed any Scorsese movie in the past or have enjoyed movies that include surrealism, Shutter Island combines the two into an intense thriller that boggles the mind and possibly even "corrode it, rusts it". Also, if you are hesitant to watch this film because the trailer perceives it as a horror film with a lot of "jumpy" scenes, ignore that. I had the same feeling entering it, and there was only one towards the very end, but it was worth the shock. You will miss so much detail trying to cover your eyes for a few minutes sporadically throughout that it's not worth it. Take the risk of jumping out of your seat for once, because it was the best scare I could ask for.

9/10. Not Martin's best work, but come on, could you make a better movie than him?
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Another Martin-Leo Masterpiece!!!
Naman Kapur15 February 2010
Martin Scorsese returns to film making after winning the academy award for The Departed with his fav star Leonardo DiCaprio.. This time he move to a completely different script which keeps the audience humored and thrilled from the first scene till the last! The movie( which i saw at the Berlin film festival!) blew away the minds of many people, the plot being so strong and thrilling which kept the audiences guessing!

When it comes to acting Leonardo lets no stone unturned! The supremely talented actor has once again showed that why Martin casts him in his every movie as he is simply superb! He not only fits into the role smoothly but delivers a terrific performance every time! Sir Kingsley being the head psychiatrist of the asylum has also done a marvelous job!

The film is full of flashbacks and haunting dream sequences that range in location from the island itself to the concentration camp at Dachau. The audience is constantly trapped in a world where one questions what is reality and what is dream. Don't miss this one!
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Scorsese throws a curve ball; audience strikes out
gregeichelberger24 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Last year, I lamented the fact that Martin Scorsese's long-await psychological thriller "Shutter Island" was relegated to the dead movie month of February, especially when it was receiving serious Oscar buzz at the time.

Rumors floated about that the studio and Scorsese had come to a rift, that Marty wanted too much money, that he was being punished for being the most arrogant yet most talented director in the biz. Yep, as these stories flew, I sided 100 percent with Scorsese and felt he was being persecuted - once again.

Then I saw "Shutter Island." Now I know what the fuss wasn't all about.

If ever a motion picture needed to be seen in February this is it. As difficult to watch as it is to review, "Shutter Island" is a psychotropic mish-mash of "Shawshank Redemption" meets "Vertigo" meets "The Sixth Sense" meets "Inglourious Basterds" meets "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," all neatly wrapped up as an ode to Alfred Hitchcock but coming off as simply a nod to Brian DePalma.

Littered with weird visions, wild hallucinations, back-breaking plot twists and - unfortunately - scene after scene of dead children, this movie laps itself in confusion and covers itself with a thick layer of obfuscation leaving one shaking one's head and wondering just what the point of the entire enterprise was.

Now, no doubt, those who love this film will toss about accusations of the stupidity of this scribbler, that he has no clue about the nuances of the Dennis Lehane novel from which it came; or the depth of the emotional screenplay adaptation by Laeta Kalogridis (whose last major screenplay was the wonderful, historically-accurate "Pathfinder").

That being written, to me, this movie had so much potential - all of which was smashed to bits by heavy-handed direction, a punch-in-the-face musical score, dead-end plot lines and a mystery that Nancy Drew herself would have found far too easy to solve. Then, after the endless maze of twists and turns we're forced go through, the movie takes a lame swipe at McCarthyism - where was Charlie McCarthy when I needed him?

It's 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo, "Where the Wild Things Are") arrive at a creepy federal asylum for the criminally insane off the coast of Massachuttes. Evidently, a young woman prisoner - who drowned her three children - escaped and they have been called in to investigate.

I write "evidently" because nothing is as it seems in this picture, but one will get used to that. Treated as intruders by the bellowing guards and like idiots by the high-toned doctors (Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow), the two marshals carry on their investigation, even though a "Jurassic Park"-like hurricane is threatening to overwhelm the entire island.

In the meantime, Teddy is having bizarre hallucinogenic nightmares featuring his wife, Delores (Michelle Williams, Oscar nominee for "Brokeback Mountain"), who perished in a fire set by a guy who is housed in this very facility. In these dreams, Delores keeps trying to give Teddy clues about the film, but he refuses to listen.

He also relates how, as a U.S. soldier liberating one of the Nazi death camps, he and others lined up German soldiers against the wall and machine-gunned them. I'm not sure why these scenes were in the movie, since they had nothing to do with the plot - then again, NOTHING in this movie had ANYTHING to do with the plot.

Teddy even tracks down an old college friend, George Noy (Jackie Earle Haley, Jr., "Little Children"), now housed in the dreaded C Ward; and later meets a facility doctor hiding out in a cave raving about the Cold War, mind-control experiments and brainwashing techniques. But like everything else, these story-lines, too, come to dead ends.

We now not only begin to question Teddy's sanity, but our own as the film takes even more hairpin turns until arriving at the single most disappointing conclusion of any Scorsese film ever made, especially in the light of Teddy's last bold declaration, which I was hoping (against all hope) would rectify and redeem his character, as well as the film.

Fans of the director will no doubt appreciate this effort and I do, too, in some respects. The acting, especially DiCaprio, Williams and Kingsley, are without flaw. The newly-hot Haley, Jr. huff and puffs admirably during his two-minute screen time, Von Sydow is appropriately German and Ruffalo basically reacts to Teddy the entire time.

The cinematography of Robert Richardson ("Inglourious Basterds," "The Aviator," "Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2") is always amazing, as well. His gritty, creepy, atmospheric view of the daunting Gothic castle-like structure takes on a life of its own.

It's a shame that Scorsese had to litter it all with dead kids, half-hearted nowhere scenes and incidental characters which turn out to mean absolutely nothing. I'm not an idiot and I don't want my films fed to me like a toddler in a high chair, but it doesn't hurt to walk away from a movie feeling one has gotten SOMETHING out of it.

Is that too much to ask?
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Disappointing Ending
politically_incorrect20420 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I hate to say this as much anyone else but for me this film had a horribly disappoint ending. First before I delve into that I'd like to say that the acting, the writing, the shooting, the film in general as far as quality goes was very good. But the ending was very disappointing. And no I am no idiot or newbie when it comes to film. But I thought the was very much a cop out. Now granted I know this is based off of a novel, hence there are certain restraints to adhering to this novel somewhat. That being said I found the idea of the medical experimentation, mental hospital, nazi experiments, and astray patients much more tantalizing, realistic, and more full of potential. The trick ending where its all in someone's head is done far too often sadly. I was hoping that while it dragged one there at the end it would ultimately reveal he was playing them or that he would stay true and not give in. But that didn't happen. I guess for me I was just expecting something not so cliché for an ending from the likes of Scorsese's genius mind. But all things said and done I definitely can't give this movie all negative remarks, wonderfully acted and scripted. Great atmosphere, shooting, photography, etc. But I feel the ending should have been less cliché or not as cheap I guess. Felt like it was just an easy way out and not fully developing the tension and intrigue that they had built throughout. But either way its each to their own, so maybe you will appreciate the ending more than I. FYI - I do understand the undertones of the ending and the ambiguity, but I don't think that saves the ending or does the film justice in it's entirety.
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Once again, Scorsese has helped redefine a genre'
blackmambamark16 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Sure everyone knows the typical Scorsese film. Normally there is a mob present, or in most cases, a tough brute who loves to flash the "F" bomb in almost every sentence. But what about a thriller? I mean sure, we have seen it in "Cape Fear", probably one of my personal favorite remakes. But what about a top notch mind bending thriller that really makes you think. Something the likes of which we have never seen Mr. Scorsese do. But given his previous works of art, its really hard to doubt that he cannot pull this off.

Grasping the concept of this movie is a no brainer. There is a mystery on this island filled with crazy people, but you can tell that there is a lot more under the surface. Yeah, it doesn't sound that original........but my oh my, you just wait until Scorsese begins to pick at your brain. Not since "Taxi Driver" have i seen Scorsese really make a valiant attempt at a character study of someone going insane. In "Taxi Driver", its like your in the back seat......watching as Robert Deniro slowing progresses into his insanity. With Shutter Island, its like your inside the mind of Dicaprio, and everything is starting to crumble. Scorsese really does a fantastic job of toying with your mind. You cannot help but second guess everything your thinking, but then again, i think that was the ultimate goal.......and yes, that was hint towards the end, which i think will raise a lot of debate. Now i always hear the phrase "Twist and Turns" when someone describes a decent thriller. Then i see the movie, and i say to myself........"That was a Twist and Turn? It felt more like a road bump." But in this case, Scorsese really does re-define the term. Because in this film, you really have a hard time judging what is actually real, and what is not.......and what you think is happening, is actually not happening at all..........that is a twist and turn people. Not you finally figuring out who the masked killer is at the end.......okay, im sorry that all thriller movies are not like a Scooby Doo episode.

And since we are on the subject of crappy thrillers......i am so glad that Scorsese chose not to use elevated music in some of scenes. For example, someone jump out of a dark most cases, the music is raised and the audience jumps.......but in this movie, Scorsese doesn't add any music at all......he just uses the fear of an eerie set to make your skin crawl. Much like an old Hitchcock movie. However, there is music in this, and let me tell you, it is so very fitting. You can tell Scorsese has been down this path before, so he sort of used the same style that he did in "Cape Fear", with Benard Herman's deep, dark, and haunting tones that just pull you in more and more. Honestly, there is not one bad aspect of this movie. The acting, the directing, the score, the cinematography.....all pieced together with one hell of a script.

Bottom Line........people, this is what a thriller is suppose to be. Especially a psychological thriller. I thank god for directors like Scorsese.....because this movie really isn't his type of film. My guess is he saw enough crap in this genre' and had he threw his hat into the ring and gave a rebirth to the classic Hithcock type thriller.......not only that, i really think that he redefined it in a way. Now i know that it is really early in the year, but i can easily see this movie staying in my top 10 of this year. Absolutely fantastic film, best i have seen so far.
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Which Would Be Worse, To Live As A Monster Or To Die As A Good Man?
LeoCrow200210 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If Paramount Pictures had released Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island last year – the original release date was October 2nd, 2009 – I would have considered the film the best movie of the year. As it stands, the rest of 2010 has a long way to go in terms of matching the quality and effectiveness of Scorsese's new picture. It's a fascinating character drama, an exciting and almost experimental exploration of the human mind, a reinvention of the horror genre and a dynamic acting showcase for its star, the incredible and still very underrated Leonardo DiCaprio.

Shutter Island is also an incredibly appropriate entry in the Scorsese canon – it's a film about an alienated man haunted by his past. Add Teddy Daniels to the list of Scorsese's tragic and multilayered antiheroes – Jake La Motta, Travis Bickle, Henry Hill, Howard Hughes, Billy Costigan, Rupert Pupkin, Jesus Christ. The film also continues Scorsese's fascination with our understanding of violence (it should be noted that our perception of the lead character's violent actions changes dramatically when watching the film for a second time).

Shutter Island is eerie from the very beginning. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his newly assigned partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) steadily approach an island off the coast of Massachusetts known as Shutter Island, a mental hospital for the criminally insane. The year is 1954, and Scorsese and music supervisor Robbie Robertson subtly incorporate vintage (and sometimes downright disturbing) 1950s music into the sound mix. Once on the island, Daniels and his partner meet with Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), who explains to the Marshals that one of the island's patients has mysteriously disappeared overnight. The investigation that ensues is a fascinating exploration of insanity.

Hovering over every scene is a paranoid, post-war anxiety shared explicitly by our protagonist and thoroughly felt and realized by Scorsese. Tensions rise as Teddy recalls horrific memories from liberating a concentration camp during the war, and his suspicions of Nazism and conspiracy by the House of Un-American Activities on the island become our suspicions. The best Scorsese films force the audience to live inside the minds of moderately-to-severely delusional characters weighed down by an enormous and overwhelming guilt. Shutter Island does just that. There is an unease throughout the entire film, deliberate disturbances in continuity that some audiences might mistake for sloppy editing. That's simply Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker toying with the audience, making us question the reality we're watching and the reliability of our protagonist.

The film is a brilliant melding of film noir, detective mystery and psychological horror, at its very core an exploration of an emotionally disturbed human psyche, disguised as a Hitchcockian thriller that works as both a homage to Scorsese's favorite psychological thrillers from the 1940s and 1950s while simultaneously elevating itself into something larger and more complicated. When you watch Shutter Island, you're not just watching Scorsese's film – you're watching thousands of classic movies at once, assembled together in a picture conceived by a filmmaker whose encyclopedic knowledge of film history pours into every detail of every frame, so much so that an already-genuinely suspenseful scene of DiCaprio racing up a flight of winding stairs simultaneously serves as a homage to Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes (1948).

Unfortunately, Shutter Island has come under attack from, as my good friend calls them, the pseudo-intellectual crowd. From what I can gather, the general complaint is that the movie takes itself too seriously dramatically, and that some of the dramatic shifts in the film are laughable. Perhaps this is because Scorsese refuses to compromise his vision by winking at the audience. When discussing The Best Films of the 1990s with Martin Scorsese in early 2000, film critic Roger Ebert notes that at some point in the 1990s, existentialism, "the idea of what we do with our lives," was "replaced by irony, so that everything has quotation marks around it." He then adds, however, that Scorsese's "films are not in quotation marks...they are meant."

And he's absolutely right. Scorsese can't make an ironic film - a film too afraid to deal head- on with real, palpable human emotion, therefore putting the actions of its characters in huge quotation marks. My favorite films of the past few years don't have ironic quotation marks around their characters, either. I don't buy movies that do that – it's a cheap way of pleasing the cynical, highbrow crowd who only accept genuine human emotion in films if it comes from Pixar Animation or a foreign-language film. I love those movies, too, but I haven't given up on serious American films that aim for high character drama and succeed. I'm talking about Clint Eastwood's Mystic River (2003), Scorsese's The Aviator (2004), Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005) and now, Shutter Island. These are films that take their characters and their plights seriously.

Every negative review I've read doesn't seem to consider how effective the film is on a visceral level, how strong and forceful the performances are from top to bottom and the powerful manner in which screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis keeps the story grounded in the deep emotional turmoil of its characters. Shutter Island is a real film, the kind they don't make anymore, exceeding the supposed limitations of its genre and offering its audience something challenging and psychologically fascinating. Scorsese doesn't have to make movies anymore - he's already made more masterpieces than any other living filmmaker - but we're lucky that he's still exploring his obsessions in new and inventive ways. Shutter Island should be met with applause, not simply because the film marks the latest work from our finest living filmmaker, but because it's also the best damn movie you'll see this year.
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The Cabinet of Dr. Shutter Island - spoiler alert
meftsimmons21 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
First, I know many who read this will not take the time to research what I'm saying to see that it is true and further, many won't have the ability to see it even if they did. So, I know this review will be thumbed down by those who don't like the hard truths in life but this movie (or should I say novel by Dennis Lehane) was a nice piece of plagiarism based upon a 1920 silent film called The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

The same basic plot exists in both as well as the exact same twist ending. The lead character investigates an insane asylum and tries to put clues together to figure out the mystery surrounding the place but as we near the end, we learn that the lead character isn't there to investigate anything. He's an inmate there who has invented much of what he was investigating as part of his coping mechanism.

Shutter Island would have been a good movie if it hadn't ripped off The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari so blatantly. Lehane obviously knew that the old movie was in the public domain but instead of telling the viewers that it was based on that movie, they just pass it off as his (and/or Scorseesi's idea). That, my friends, is the definition of plagiarism.

I don't recommend this whatsoever for this reason. It is a shame and Lehane should be called on it but who will do it? Too much $ to be made reheating the old dishes and calling them made from scratch.

Watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (it's on y o u t u b e if you want to compare the two and see that what I'm saying is 100% correct).

I almost never write reviews but this time, I had to.
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Did I miss something?
bob-benoit2 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Did I end up seeing a different movie than everyone else? I was shocked when I saw that Scorsese had directed this (I was unaware.) I think was by far his worst movie.

The story line had great potential - once you "know" what really happened at the end. I thought the execution of the film was poor.

The middle of the movie positively DRAGGED. I felt like I was watching Di Caprio and Winslet in Titanic, escaping from near death as the water rises - FIVE times in a row. I couldn't wait for the end.

The end of the movie was needless to say muddled, which is probably intentional. We're meant to to REALLY know what happened. Was he crazy? Was he not? Was he poisoned and committed to protect the secrets of the island? Was he really an inmate undergoing a radical therapy? I can appreciate the film noir quality of the ending. It's just by that time I didn't care.

There were lots of great clues along the way that don't make any sense at the time. But at the end when you look back they make sense (the blood from his wife's midsection when he's holding her ghost the first time.) And the idea behind a story like this is to make all of those clues fit the "real" story. Like explaining why they had to give up their guns at the gate. And why the guards were looking at them so strangely when they first arrived on the island.

What doesn't make sense to me is the opening sequence on the boat. Why is that part of the story? If you're going to try out this radical new theory, and you have to "start" Teddy off in his fantasy somewhere (where he departs from the reality of being an inmate and starts the fantasy of being a Marshal investigating the escape), then why not just have him start off on the dock (as if he just arrived.) It has to start somewhere - you can't go back indefinitely. The opening sequence just doesn't fit the "real" story - only the "fantasy." I was VERY disappointed in the execution of the film as a whole.

I wasn't alone either. Someone behind me muttered "Scorsese needs a lobotomy" as the credits rolled.

I couldn't help but laugh and agree.
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A Horrible Movie
Richard Nathan3 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This review contains major spoilers. Please do not read any further if you have not yet seen this film and you have any interest in seeing the film at any time in the future.

This film makes no damned sense, unless the point of the film is supposed to be that the people running the insane asylum are more insane than the inmates.

For this film to make any sense, you have to accept the premise that psychiatrists who actually care about a mentally ill patient would try to cure such patient by doing things that would drive a sane person crazy; that they would play cruel head games that encourage delusional beliefs. How can any sane person believe that giving Teddy/Andrew evidence to support his delusions is going to cure him of delusions? In fact, as the film progresses, we see Teddy/Andrew getting more deluded, more paranoid, more violent. The role-playing is clearly counter-productive.

Giving Teddy/Andrew reasons to believe his delusions would not cure him. This is proved by the fact that there are numerous people on the IMDb boards who believe Teddy was sane all along, throughout the film. If the role-playing can't even convince these viewers of the truth, how is it supposed to convince Teddy/Andrew?

And for this film to make any sense, you also have to believe that these same doctors would give a startling degree of freedom to one of the asylum's most violent killers. Andrew/Teddy attacks a patient and knocks out a guard. He blows up a car, for goodness sake! That alone should prove it was insane to give him any freedom to wander alone, even for a short time.

The movie was set up as a mystery - what is the secret of Shutter Island? But the resolution (that Teddy/Andrew was insane all along, and the doctors were pretending to be evil because they thought that would cure him of his delusions) makes no sense. There is nothing worse than a mystery where the solution breaks all rules of logic. It reminds me of the following joke:

Dennis Lehane: What is furry, has four legs, purrs, and reads the newspaper every day? Richard Nathan: I don't know. Dennis Lehane: A cat. I lied about the newspaper.

I thought that joke was annoying the first time I heard it, and it's annoying as the basis of the mystery in "Shutter Island."

Furthermore, the resolution is not the result of any actions taken by the protagonist. The role-playing game doesn't lead Teddy/Andrew to discover the truth himself. He is merely a passive listener as the solution is explained to him. The breaks several major rules of screen writing.

And what about the very end? Most people interpret Teddy/Andrew's last line as meaning Andrew is only faking his regression, so that he can get a lobotomy and avoid facing the truth. But if he were faking it, why would he give this away to the doctor playing Chuck? And why are so many people moved by this act of cowardice? Can there be anything more cowardly than someone choosing to get a lobotomy to avoid facing the truth about himself? Are we supposed to empathize with someone who chooses to destroy his own intellect because he doesn't have the guts to face the truth?

I cannot understand how anyone can think this is an intelligent screenplay.
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The Good and The Bad
jullashanghavi20 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After coming on this usually reliable site and seeing the high rating for Shutter Island, I decided to check the movie out. I was HIGHLY disappointed… so much so, that it frustrates me to even give it enough attention to write this review.

THE GOOD: The cinematography made this film somewhat tolerable. The opening scene was great, but then it went downhill from there…

THE BAD: Whoever wrote this film should be ashamed. There was no originality to this plot whatsoever, and the overacting almost made this film unbearable. The ending was so frustrating that I wondered if I actually missed something. I kept waiting for the movie to get better, but it never did. I just kept thinking that this couldn't have been one of those "it was all a dream" clichés, but sadly it was. The entire film was so redundant that all I could say at the end of the film was: "seriously?" Do NOT waste your money… it will leave you angry and frustrated.
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So boring you'll question your sanity
troyhawke19 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This review DOES contain spoilers.

Right at the beginning of the film it becomes clear that this is supposed to be all spooky and scary. The movie tries too hard at creating an eerie mood, and fails miserably because it is so overdone, especially with the music. There are a few good scenes but most of it is repeated so many times it becomes tedious. The observant viewer will quickly understand (spoiler here) that the US Marshal actually is a patient there, and from there on in you just wait for him to "get it", and you no longer care about anyone or anything that happens. And the shocking twist at the end is no twist, its just a boring "yeah, yeah, we get it"-moment. Of course he's on his way to get the lobotomy, yeah so he's not cured, maybe he chose not to be cured, blah blah blah, "the ending leaves so many questions" yeah whatever.

It's too overdone, too obvious, too long and too boring. We are promised an exciting story but it does not deliver. This movie will probably be spoken highly of by all the know-it-all's, and if you didn't like it you'll be told that you "didn't get it". But yeah, we did get it, because it was way too obvious.

Spend your money on something else, get a haircut for instance. It's less boring and quicker.
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Scorsese Lays a Very Large Rotten Egg
bababear20 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The premise of SHUTTER ISLAND was fresh and original...the first dozen or times it was utilized in a story.



The idea that the main character is really a patient at the mental hospital, not a federal marshal investigating a disappearance there, has been done countless times. Very early in the narrative I figured out that the story was being told from inside Teddy's mind and kept waiting for some reason that this much money was being spent and this talented a group of people working so hard to tell this story. There must be some other twist coming that will make this worthwhile.

Nope. It just gets worse and worse, and sillier and sillier.

This would provide great material for Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tonight people all over the theater were laughing out loud, and not at any points that were supposed to be funny.

The screenplay, to be generous, stinks. Fine actors read dialog that is as stilted as can be. The musical score is equally bad, with shuddering, ominous strings underlying scenes and trying valiantly to drown out the awful lines those poor actors were forced to say.

Because the story is being told through the eyes of an insane characters, the continuity lapses are understandable. A hurricane blows over the island, causing considerable damage. For whatever reason, though, the storm is selective. Huge trees are uprooted in some places but in other places there is no visible damage at all.

In one scene near the end Teddy wakes up to find three supporting characters standing around his bed. It brought to mind the scene at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ when Dorothy wakes up to find her friends have been watching over her while she sleeps. Did Scorsese not realize the similarity? There was one fascinating mystery that I hoped would be explained but wasn't. Teddy makes his way to a lighthouse and runs up the stairs to find one of the doctors from the mental hospital in a office.

OK. It's a lighthouse. There's a spiral staircase running through the middle of it. How in the world did the doctor manage to get a desk, chairs, file cabinet, lamps, etc., three stories up a spiral staircase? And why? I'd ask the same question of Scorsese. You and some brilliant actors made this turd.

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Boring and pretentious
krycek1912 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I usually have nothing against being influenced by a movie if it appeals to me and has a good story. Shutter Island did neither for me.

The music in the opening scene is trying way too hard to create an eerie feeling that Shutter Island is a place of evil. And the music reminded me of Cape Fear. But Shutter Island is far far from the greatness of Cape Fear which is Scorses all time masterpiece in my opinion. This however is his worst movie.

It is not DiCaprio's fault, but the horrible deeply flawed screenplay.

* SPOILER AHEAD * I would have liked to have Leo's character not been insane and developed an alternative reality in order to protect himself from the memory of his drowned children and the wife that he shot.

If the movie had been about him coming to find a missing patient and expose Ben Kingsley and the other doctors as vicious attackers of patients, then it had perhaps been a good movie.

Teddy's memories of WWII is also just boring and have no great importance to the plot. Yes I know that the dead girl in wagons represent his daughter that he could not save. But it's damn uninteresting.

The plot does not make much sense either. Leo is really a patient himself on Shutter Island, and to get him to accept his past, all physicians, psychiatrists, prison guards and patients are acting to support his idea of reality. How likely is it that doctors could get criminally insane to help in this way? It would not be feasible. They are all just as crazy as Teddy. If not more.

How likely is it that a German doctor could get Teddy to wake up when Teddy, because of his past as a soldier, hates Germans and basically sees him as a Nazi? They offer Teddy alcohol. It would probably just be tea they had given him had he said yes but he would probably have noticed it. And then what would they have done?

If the goal is to get Teddy to accept his past and that he is patient, why are the doctors then doing everything they can to act suspicious and untrustworthy?

What if Teddy had bolted when he was aboard the ferry with his partner/psychiatrist? It could not have been prevented.

How likely is it that the U.S. Marshalls are told to hand over their weapons when they are searching for a missing patient in a prison/institution for the criminally insane?

Teddy's gun is a toy gun. How likely is it that Teddy does not until the very end discovers that it is made of plastic, not metal and wood? Especially when he is suppose to be extremely intelligent.

On the whole, they let a seemingly very dangerous patient walk freely around the island for several days. They let him blow up a car and knock a guard out. They would never let it come so far in reality.

What is the meaning of it all? Why put the whole circus together due to one mental patient? Why feed on his delusions, if the goal is to make him accept his past? Why is he more interesting than all the other patients? Why don't they just talk to him and give him medicine that prevents him to invent an alternative reality? Yes it is 1954 and yes the time they knew not what we know today and yes they would probably give him a lobotomy as it is indicated they will at the end of the movie. But still.

There is so much that does not make sense in the movie and when it itself is so cliché-filled, I really can not take it seriously.
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Completely idiotic
vendorx25 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers ahead, although not really, since none of the movie you watch will be relevant to the ending.

Let's break it down simply. The whole movie is a two hour long, twilight zone style "and then he woke up." Everything you watch, all of the characters, all of the story, mean nothing. They are erased at the ending when the protagonist "comes to" and realizes that he's just a murderer. But keep in mind, this isn't any normal crime. It is at once as cliché and as over the top as possible.

In the meantime, heir director made no attempt to do any serious research into psychology at all, even its history. At the end you're watching a literal, rational, "bargain" being made between the psychologists and the protagonist, despite the fact that at the outset of the film they point out that the insane are not so easily "reasoned" with, that they don't respond to stimuli in "rational" ways.

In short, the whole movie is a textbook case of failure in the art of story telling. I wish I could be less harsh, but I've been reading IMDb for years now, and this was the first time I felt the need to register to expose a film. If you really liked this film, then you don't understand story telling at all, and you have no taste. You can whine about it all being a matter of opinion if you want, but a story that in its climax obliterates the hour and a half you took to get there is no story at all.
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What was he thinking??
jmcnulty-121 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The movie starts out really nicely as you settle down into your seat. Two great actors in a very nicely set period piece, beautiful lighting, great supporting cast...this is going to be good you think to yourself and you almost hug yourself in anticipation. But, things quickly start to go wrong. Thirty minutes into it...that doesn't make sense...hold on...surely he's not trying to...but that's been done before...there must be a's coming...any minute...any minute now. Then it slowly dawns on you that it's not coming because there is no double-double bluff...he's actually trying to sell a story that's been done so many times before but better...Twelve Monkey's...the audience is restless because they've got it too and they're waiting...waiting in vain! My head is in my hands...What a waste of talent and what a waste of time!
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The movie is perfect psycho drama
Ashur Lazar (ruhsa)24 September 2017
Shutter Island is the story of Teddy Daniels, A U.S. federal marshal sent to the island with his partner Chuck Aule to search for the disappearance of a patient. Each scene provides a turn against their leads and compels them to look for more whilst searching in places we couldn't comprehend, including their minds. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo feed off each other and supply great performances for their characters as expected, but some of the other characters whose names are riveted on the posters or marquees are sensational as well. The two that stuck out to me most were Ben Kingsley (Dr. Cawley) and Michelle Williams (Dolores, Teddy's wife), each of whom brought so much dramatics and new questions to the movie, developing plot twists and controversy. I don't think this film would be the same without them.

This is also a film I would recommend seeing a second time. In fact, it is even better the second time. All those pieces of that puzzle you didn't catch the first time, you will the second. You see, we as the audience are first put in the shoes of Teddy. The second? Well, without giving too much away, lets just say you are put in someones else's shoes entirely during the second viewing.

Shutter Island. A film that will make you question your own sanity. A film that will leave you breathless. A film that has re-ignited the thriller genre. A film that will leave you, and the main character, searching for answers.
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