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9/10
One of the most memorable plot twists of this decade
jackgdemoss22 July 2019
I originally saw this film when it came out but couldn't remember it well enough to give it a rating or write a review, so a rewatch was in order. I viewed the film through the lens of already knowing the plot twist, which made it a whole different experience. The ending will be remembered throughout film history as one that showed just how viciously a well written script can flip an audience over. This really is a film you should see twice.
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10/10
No one likes to be messed with.
stednitzrules25021 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

-CLS
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10/10
Movie of the decade.
NpMoviez29 July 2018
It is one of the best movies made by director Martin Scorsese. It is perhaps the best movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Honestly speaking, it is one of the greatest films of the decade. DiCaprio featured in two movies in 2010, the other one being "Inception". Both were excellent. To this day, they are some of the best cinematic experience I have ever had. That being said, I found "Shutter Island" to be much more superior, as "Inception" feels a little bit of a mumbo jumbo many times.

Good. "Shutter Island" is simply a masterpiece. The beginning of the movie suggests a very basic plot of a detective story, possibly a thriller. As the movie progresses, the plot becomes bigger and bigger with more and more complexity added to it. The way this happens is incredible. The pacing is really good. That is what makes the movie so interesting. And, even though the movie gets more complex, it is not difficult to keep up with the major plot points. And, the final twist is one of the best plot twists I have ever seen. I did not expect it at all. And, like the main character portrayed by DiCaprio, we are not ready to believe what is being told until a lot of reveals finally convince us. There are a lot of many things that might seem to be pointless before the final twist which are totally relevant with the story that is actually being told. The character of Edward Daniels is superbly written. We get to know where the character is coming from and we can get behind the character - yet another excellent thing about this movie. There are some dream sequences that seems like a filler, but is a major indication to the reveal. There are quite many "illusions" which feel very real, but carry no real meaning in the end. There are many additional things which may seem like a diversion from the story being told, but are actually enhancing it. Some dialogues between the main character and an imprisoned character get a very different interpretation after it's all set and done. So much of a complex story, yet no giant inconsistencies at all. It's just superbly written and directed and acted. It's totally different from "Memento" (2000) but still, has a lot of similarities. We get into the main character's head and we just get his interpretations, different types though. Towards the end, we don't want to step fully outside his head, but when we finally do, it's mind blowing. The ending moments were conceived by many to be confusing. But, if you keep up with the entire story, it's meaning is quite obvious. The movie is dark and psychologically engrossing. Yet it does have a short lived and very brief happy moment with the tiny plotline involving Dr. Cawley's motives. That's all I can say without getting into complete spoilers. Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsly have given some of the great performances till date. I don't have anything that bugged me. So no mixed or bad aspects of the film.

Conclusion. On the whole, for me, it's the movie of the decade. The decade is almost over, and still I have not got any movie in the league of "Shutter Island". It's a very engaging and thrilling movie. It's one of those films I consider to be an all time great.

Rating. Score : absolute 10/10 Grade : A+
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9/10
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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9/10
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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10/10
love this movie highly recommend.
MR_Heraclius23 February 2020
Visually beautiful, wonderfully acted, and relentlessly gripping, Shutter Island is a brilliantly unrestrained psychological thriller that keeps its audience riveted throughout its entire duration.
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8/10
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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9/10
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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10/10
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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9/10
Great a must watch !!
czavaleta7323 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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10/10
THE BEST PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER
brahmjeetsinghnagpal17 October 2019
'Shutter Island' is perhaps one of the best, if not the best, movies ever directed by Martin Scorsese. One cannot comprehend the experience in one-go. You will have to watch it twice or thrice to understand it enough, which is why Scorsese himself said back in 2010 that the movie would earn double profits because of people going to watch the movie twice.

The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow. They have, without doubt, given an excellent performance. And since it is directed by Martin Scorsese, you will of course be appealed by the cinematography and direction. But what's the most striking feature of this movie, the thing that makes this movie a real success is it's plot. The movie is an adaptation of the 2003 novel 'Shutter Island' by Dennis Lehane. The first half of the movie is calm and steady, but it is only a setting up for the terrific, unexpected ending which is absolutely shocking and jaw-dropping. There are several clues and intentional continuing errors that foreshadow the twist ending. The film is also filled with anagrams reminding me of which, did you know that the title 'Shutter Island' is actually an anagram for 'Truth and Lies'.

The background score is also amazing, especially the one by Gustav Mahler. The background score maintains the rythm of the movie.

There is only one inclusion by Martin Scorsese in the film which was not originally in the novel, the dialogue "Which would be worse - to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?", which happens to be one of the most famous quotes in cinema.

Overall, 'Shutter Island' is completely watchable and enjoyable. There is a lot to learn in this film while it intensifies you. Personally for me, it is the best psychological thriller.
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10/10
Another Excellent Film by Scorsese...
tsquared22616 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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9/10
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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8/10
Another Martin-Leo Masterpiece!!!
naman-avastol15 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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9/10
Shocking and Brilliant,
lesleyharris3025 July 2013
Shutter Island is an absolute breathtaking movie with a tremendous storyline that will keep you interested all the way through and a brilliant cast that all follow through with their performances in an overall terrific film once again from the great Martin Scorsese.The movie sounded pretty plain to me,I thought it would be an average thriller that I would enjoy but it would be pretty forgettable,but it totally wasn't,the movie had me curious and also confused,and the twist was one of the greatest,most surprising and most shocking twists i've ever seen in a movie,I literally never suspected it,not even once,and when it did happen I still didn't believe it.Shutter Island is a must see for all fans of Leonardo DiCaprio,Martin Scorsese,thriller and mystery.

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio),a US Marshall,sets out with his partner to a mental institution in a quiet island to investigate where a missing patient could have gone.But there's something suspicious about the island that they didn't bargain for.
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10/10
An underrated Gem
norbertranjith11 July 2018
I have been avoiding this movie for almost 8 years, since it got mixed reviews when it was released.

I loved Scorcese's movies and was looking forward to watching this when it was released. But the trailer didn't impress and then the reviews.

Watched it last night, and loved it. Watched it today again and was pleasantly surprised that the second view was more satisfying than the first go round. It's amazing how a different perspective can give a whole different movie experience. Scorsese is a genius!!!
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8/10
The Eye Of The Master
maureenmcqueen21 February 2010
Yes, Scorsese's eye is all over "Shutter Island" what I din't feel was his gut. And for me a Scorsese film bears his gut. From "Mean Streets" to "The Age Of Innocence", "The King Of Comedy", "New York, New York" The presence of his gut, his poetic gut, his Scorsese gut, made those experiences, emotional and timeless. "Shutter Island" is extraordinary to look at. It has some bravura shots that will take your breath away. It's no uniquely Scorsesian like, "Raging Bull" "Casino" or "Goodfellas" It doesn't have the energy and passion of "Taxi Driver" or the commitment of "Bringing Out The Dead", "The Last Temptation Of Christ" or "Gangs of New York", doesn't have the freshness of "After Hours", "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" Doesn't have the scope or ambition of neither "The Aviator" nor "The Departed" but I liked it very much.
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10/10
Give it a couple of years...
meganagyei7 April 2021
I, like many others, was fascinated by, loved, and watched this film several times when it was released, trying to make up my own mind and never being quite sure. I've come back to it a few years later, looking deeper than was perhaps intended, and now it feels like a masterpiece!
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10/10
One of Scorsese's best
davidmvining29 March 2021
This movie's ending is a case study in how to read movies. If you consider what was said before, what was done before, and the basics of the character's journey, there is literally only one way to read the movie's final moments. Everything up to that moment builds to the finale is designed to feed a specific end point, and it helps the movie as a whole that everything up to that point is incredibly well done. Scorsese had one early foray into big budget filmmaking with New York, New York, which wasn't really any kind of success, but his turn into big budget filmmaking with another two decades of experience under his belt has been far more successful as he is able to still coax quality performances from his actors while working with more traditionally narrative based scripts (this time based on a novel by Dennis Lehane) and much more intricate and larger production design.

Off the coast of Massachusetts lays Shutter Island, an old Civil War fort that has been repurposed into a mental hospital for the criminally insane. A mystery pops up when one of their patients has disappeared from her cell and two US Marshals arrive on the ferry. These are Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). The movie begins with ominous tones from the soundtrack as the ferry emerges from the fog, and Teddy is having trouble with sea sickness. Getting on the island, everything feels off from the get go. The guards are watching them too closely. They're required to give up their firearms. They're not allowed to see any of the hospital personnel files. There's a German doctor of high position less than a decade after the end of World War II. The guards don't even seem interested in looking for the lost patient. Patients and personnel all seem coached and artificial, and behind it all is Dr. Cawley (Ben Kinglsey).

Nothing about the story of Rachel Solando disappearing from her cell makes any sense, up to and including the need to send for US Marshals and to hamstring them from any kind of real investigation at the same time. How could she have gotten by so many orderlies? How could she vanish for so long without her shoes? How could she wander the grounds without shoes at all considering the rough terrain of the island? The staff, in particular Dr. Cawley, are obviously hiding something from Teddy, and Teddy's going to figure it out.

He and Chuck are not long term partners, Chuck having met Teddy for the first time on the boat, so Teddy tells Chuck his real reason for taking the case. He's heard things about Shutter Island, stemming from stories he's heard about the man who lit the fire in the apartment building he was living in that killed his wife. He's there, but there have also been tales of sick experiments being run on the patients, particularly in Ward C built from the actual fort while the rest of the hospital was made of the troops' barracks. Teddy's going to get to the bottom of this and blow the whole thing up to the world.

It's a paranoia infested plot that involves anti-communist agents, young and innocent socialists, and a power mad doctor, and it's all in Teddy's mind.

The main strength of this movie really is Teddy's descent into madness and how it's masked for so long as a him getting closer to the truth. That manifests in particular through memories and dreams. Teddy was a soldier in World War II and helped liberate Dachau, and he's consumed by the memory of the commandant killing himself poorly and dying in a pool of his own blood as well as the piles of bodies in the ice and snow and his part in the quick execution of the SS guards. He also has dreams of his departed wife in their apartment. There's a mysterious presence of water, and her back is hollowed out and ashy from fire as she crumbles in his arms.

As the story progresses and Teddy becomes convinced that Dr. Cawley is feeding him drugs in the food, water, and even cigarettes, the visions become more pronounced in his waking life. His wife and a little girl appear before him, and he talks to them directly without anyone else seeing them. However, because the movie is told really strictly from Teddy's point of view we don't have any other information until later that the exact opposite is happening, that he's in withdrawal from the drugs that he had been on before a couple of days before.

The reveal at the end in the much talked about lighthouse is a gut punch. The true nature of Teddy's sickness, the true history of his wife and how she died, it's all inexorably tied to what we've seen before, and the audience wants to reject that reality as much as Teddy does. It's horrible what Teddy went through, and his insistence on living in a fantasy world of Nazi experiments suddenly makes so much more sense.

Now, the reading of the ending. There's really only one interpretation of Teddy's final choice. If we have all this talk of running from the past, of having a choice of becoming a monster or staying a good man, what possible explanation could there be other than Teddy is completely self-aware when he says the fateful words that lead to the final surgery? If not, then the rest of the movie was just a series of random events that don't mean anything, but if those events do mean something then the ending means that Teddy is making his choice in full command of his facilities. He's faced with the truth of his actions, of his past, and of his wife, and he can't take it. He can either descend back into madness or he can remove himself from that completely, and he chooses removal.

This is such a natural follow up to The Departed for Scorsese. Both are about identity, about making choices of who we are, but Shutter Island is firmly within the psychological horror genre while The Departed was a crime movie. There's so much to chew on for the audience on these questions of who we choose to be based on what came before us.

On top of all that, this movie is gorgeous to simply look at. Up until this point, this is Scorsese's best looking movie (Silence, I think, ends up even prettier). The deep blues and greens of the island, the storm, and the dark corridors of Ward C along with the bright red of the old barracks all provide this wonderfully rich color palette that is wonderfully pleasing to the eye. Lensed by Robert Richardson who had worked with Scorsese on Bringing Out the Dead and The Aviator (where color had been rather precisely designed to recreate color photography from different eras of Hollywood's history), the movie just looks fantastic.

DiCaprio gives a very good performance as Teddy, steadily losing his mind as he goes deeper into the mysteries of the island. Ben Kinglsey balances right between professional, menacing, and caring in ways that make perfect sense within their contexts but add up to a man frustrated in his quest to help a sick man. Michelle Williams is wounded and also rather terrifying as Teddy's wife, Dolores. There are very small parts from Elias Koteas as Andrew Laeddis, the man Teddy's trying to find, and by Jackie Earle Haley as George Noyce, a patient who'd received a beating. I suppose the only weak link is Mark Ruffalo as Chuck. He's fine as the clueless US Marshal in over his head early, but he feels kind of empty late in the film when his true nature appears.

Still, this movie is great, and it's one of Scorsese's best. Intelligently written by Laeta Kalogridis, beautifully photographed by Robert Richardson, and scored by a variety of classical music arranged by long-time Scorsese collaborator Robbie Richardson of The Band, Scorsese's Shutter Island shows the advantages of a master of the craft given a large budget to fully tell a story that appeals to him.
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10/10
one of Scorsese's best
nelson_keith17 February 2010
I read the novel so I knew the story going in, and I still got chills in several places and really was moved at how incredibly good this movie is. I won't get into the plot, because that could spoil things, but Leonardo DiCaprio investigates a missing patient/inmate in a top-secret island fortress for the criminally insane. He keeps getting frustrated as his interviews with doctors and patients raise more questions than answers. Ben Kingsley, who plays the primary doctor on the island, deserves a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and we will see how far the rest of the cast and movie will go into next year's awards.

The best comparisons for me were the Shining, for the psychological horror aspects of both movies. And a little bit of Silence of the Lambs, when the hero goes into a row of cells to talk with one of the inmates/patients. DiCaprio is good, but not up to the level of a younger Jack Nicholson, who would have been absolutely brilliant in this part when he was in his mid-thirties.

I am not sure if someone who hasn't read the book will be confused by some of the story... or simply be blown away at how it unfolds.

I have seen all of Martin Scorsese's movies and this is one of his top 5 or 6, better than Cape Fear, Aviator and the Departed but a hair below Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver.

This is a very scary movie, the truest horror film Scorsese has ever done. I can't recommend it to my wife or otherwise squeamish viewers, there are too many terrifying moments for them to enjoy it.

What a great movie, I will surely see it again in the theaters. Haven't seen one twice since the Hurt Locker, and before that one it's been 10 years.
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7/10
Don't you get it? You're a rat in a maze.
hitchcockthelegend8 May 2010
US Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) travels to an island asylum facility for the criminally insane with his newly assigned partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). Their reason for being at Ashecliff Hospital is to investigate the mysterious disappearance of murderess Rachel Solando. But Teddy has another issue to deal with at Ashecliff, namely a meeting with Andrew Laeddis (Elias Koteas), the man he believes responsible for the death of his wife (Michelle Williams). Nothing is what it seems at the facility though, and the further Teddy & Chuck investigate, the murkier the truths of Ashecliff become.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is adapted from the best selling novel of the same name written by Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River/Gone Baby Gone"). It finds the talented director getting closer to horror than at any point in his career, it also finds him arguably over cooking his grits. Lehane's novel is a page turning lesson in thriller writing, there's no need for deep cranial thinking or fill in the blanks like musings. Scorsese has crafted a movie that, whilst both stylish and moody, is far more intricate than it needed to be.

From the off we saw reams of amateur reviewers dissecting the film and searching for other worldly cinematic meanings. The truth is, is that they don't exist, it is just a great story pinging with psychological twisters. Lehane himself said he felt it was a book he kind of knocked out while in his flow (he undersells himself mind). Scorsese, clearly loving the source to be sure, has crammed too much in for the film to be an across the board winner. Technically accomplished? Without doubt. Depth to the story? You bet. But the reality is that the depth isn't enough to sustain all the genre blending atmospherics that is Marty's want. One is inclined to feel that he so aware that he is treading on well worn genre ground (spot the homages to film noir, old time horror and Hitchcockian grandeur), that he's trying to steer the viewers away from the obviousness on offer. The film is further let down by the second half, where it positively crawls along, something not helped by the fact that the first hour bristles with moody excitement and a promise of clinically executed terror. Anticipation can be a real killer at times...

Yet as is normally the way with a professionally assembled Scorsese picture, there's still so much to enjoy and moments that ensure it will always be a divisive film in the New Yorker's cannon. The cast are mostly great, DiCaprio delivers a stunning performance, one that can only be appreciated once the story has reached the climax. Ruffalo (restrained), Ben Kingsley (shifty) & Max Von Sydow (troubling) all do what is needed and in keeping with the tone of the piece. While the girls - Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson & Williams - have small but crucial parts to play.

Then there's the supporting characters played by some quality character actors. Koteas is joined by Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levein & John Carroll Lynch. How many of you noticed that we here have a roll call of cinematic serial killers? Edgar Reese, Freddy Krueger, Buffalo Bill and Arthur Lee Allen! (OK, Allen was not proved but "Zodiac" the movie lends us to believe it was him). The music used is suitably heart pounding and Robert Richardson's photography is on the money, especially within the dimly lit Ashecliff walls (the foreboding Medfield State Hospital for location filming). The costumes also have a nice 50s look to them, our first encounter of Teddy & Chuck sees them splendidly adorned in film noir hats and coats. While Thelma Schoonmaker's editing is up to the usual tight standard.

It's always tricky when great directors are involved, so unsurprisingly we witnessed at the start a difference of opinion with the critics as to how good Shutter Island is? What most agreed on was that the film fluctuates in quality and should have been, given the talent behind and in front of the camera, a much better picture. There's also no getting away from the fact that if you have read the book first the impact of the ending is considerably weakened. Personally I feel Scorsese was the wrong director for this particular source, but that's me, and be that as it may, he still manages to come out of it in credit with his fans - though even if he just passed gas some of them would proclaim it as a masterpiece... 7.5/10
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1/10
Save your money -- a bomb -- Scorsese is not Hitchcock
thunderfoot181223 February 2010
Summary: This is bad movie. Don't waste your time or your money on it. There was not a single convincing, or memorable, scene in the whole two-plus hours. There was not a single character to care much about. Most egregious is that this is a suspense film with almost no suspense. The movie was full of clichés -- but virtually every one of them was handled without the grace that made them clichés in the first place. The ending was predictable. The plot was stupid. The music was not the least bit memorable. On the good side? Hmmm, I suppose the cinematography was very nice, and there was a lot of technique (mostly ineffective) with the cameras. Oh, and I liked the double-basses playing the fog-horn motif.

In the elevator in the garage on the way back to my car, a couple was complaining about a movie they had just seen. "What the h..l was THAT?" "I don't know dear. What a stupid movie." "I can't believe what a mess it was!" and so on. I asked them what movie they had just seen: Shutter Island. We agreed with each other as they left the elevator: "Hitchcock, except without anything good in it." I will now do my best to pan this movie without producing any spoilers. However if you want to be *absolutely* certain to enjoy the "suspense" in all possible aspects then don't read any farther.

Suspense? This movie certainly falls in the category of Suspense. Except, er, the movie has almost no suspense to it. There was no rhythm to the sequencing of shots, no building of tension, no small releases. The whole movie was flat, like watching a collection of skits pasted together. Alas, despite his success with Cape Fear (which was much more literal), Scorsese just seems to have no feel at all for Hitchcock-style suspense.

Plot? The plot for this movie is both trite, and baroque. As narrative fiction goes it is about on the level of movies made from video games, except they don't bother to pretend. (Hey, for that matter, Silent Hill had a better plot than this movie did.) No part of this movie, not even a single one of the scenes, was believable. Most of it was just absurd. In the interest of no spoilers I have to tread lightly here. Scorsese might argue that he was trying to represent a particular plot device, but boy did THAT ever fall flat. Don't expect to make much sense, either, of the bits and pieces snatched from the real story in the original book. Plenty of scenes could have been dropped without the slightest ding to THIS mess of a plot.

How trite? Nazi doctors, concentration camp memories, "mysterious" psychiatrists, ghostly presences, all of the most hackneyed and ineffective type. Let's see: the spiral staircase from The Haunting of Hill House, the Boogey-man from Silence of the Lambs, the shower from Psycho... need I go on? And, too bad, the list of trite / iconic references here is more interesting to ponder than the actual boring manifestations of them in the movie.

Horror? I am not sure how, but Scorsese managed to make eerie, dripping, insane-asylum corridors not the least bit eerie or menacing, violent, criminally-insane killers on the loose not the least bit scary, or interesting, menacing psychiatrists with drugs in syringes not the least bit terrifying.

Character? Sorry. Not a single character was convincing or interesting. There was no chemistry between DiCaprio and Ruffalo, no sparks flying between DiCaprio and Kingsly. The great love of DiCaprio for his wife was entirely cardboard. The ooky prison-guards looked great for about five seconds and then went absolutely nowhere. What a disappointment from the guy who brought us all these rich characters in, say, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Taxi Driver ("Stop a car at a hundred yards -- put a bullet right through the engine block!"). The actors had nothing to work with in this movie.

Engagement? Hmmm. If you can't manage to involve your audience with Nazi death-camp images, and children being murdered, you've got to admit that is pretty lame. But, this bomb manages to make both of these devices and many others sterile and void of any emotion. You also don't care about the wronged do-gooders locked away in an insane asylum, the hero of the story, or his side-kick...

O.K., so maybe it gets two or three stars out of ten, but the hype is just too annoying for this weak effort from an excellent director.

This movie was just dumb. If you believe the hype and go to see it anyway before word gets around, don't say I didn't warn you.
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1/10
Disappointment
sotiriannapontika15 January 2021
I didn't connect with the protagonists, the ending was pointless A series of meaningless events which didn't add anything to the plot I think its a really overrated film.
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1/10
insignificant
photona9 August 2010
I've seen one good film (Departed) and one very good one (Blood Diamond) with Leonardo Dicaprio and thought, OK, you can't be wrong if you spend time and money for another one.

But what Bull... was this? For me it seemed like a bustling Director was trying to pump up an trivial story to a "big blockbuster" and did not notice, that this might be just enough stuff for a short story. How can one call this an "intelligent movie"?

Conclusion: Very mainstream, predictable and absolutely boring. What a waste of time and money to film this old chestnut in such a featherbrained way.
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Overlong but engaging b-movie psychological thriller
bob the moo23 January 2011
When a dangerous patient/prisoner manages to escape a secure and remote mental institution, US Marshall Teddy Daniels and his partner are sent to investigate. Arriving on the island they begin their investigation but find oddity and suspicion everywhere. As their investigation stalls and is hampered by those in charge, Daniels starts to realise that not everyone is who they claim to be, and that not even he has been honest about his motivations for leading the investigation.

Shutter Island came and went and it got mixed reviews. My girlfriend watched it on a plane and disliked it, so it took me longer than normal to get around to watching it. What I found was a solidly enjoyable b-movie thriller which treads a familiar path but mostly keeps the viewer guessing right to the end. Those who have seen more than one film involving an investigation in a mental institution will not be surprised to learn that things are not what they seem, and the film does well to buy into this tone and embrace the rather OTT sense of reality or unreality. The soundtrack is full of heavy horns that compliment this atmosphere further. So in terms of what it is doing it all works really quite well but the problem is that it is overly long and needed to be tighter with a shorter running time. By being in excess of two hours, I was still held by it but at the same time it felt that it was a bit excessive and the longer it took to get to its destination, the more likely the audience were to be pulling at it to move faster.

The performances are good. DiCaprio marked quite a 2010 with this and Inception, both roles that are genre films but with which he was able to do a lot more in terms of his character's psyche. Here he keeps the mystery alive and he takes the viewer with him really well. Support is strong from Ruffalo, Sir Kingsley, Levine, Mortimer, Clarkson, Koteas and others – all playing things close to ensure that there is this air of menace and mystery maintained. Scorsese directs with excess in a good way – striking images are used and I liked the way that there are no obvious visual triggers between reality and hallucinations/memories, this works well and I enjoyed the blurring for the viewer.

Shutter Island is not a perfect film by any means; for what it is it is excessively long and takes too much time at the risk of the viewer getting impatient with its pace. However it does engage and it does work well with the material thanks to strong direction and performances. Well worth a look as a b-movie thriller despite the big names involved.
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