U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule
(Mark Ruffalo) work the case. Sort of.
I knew I wanted to see Shutter Island (2010) even before it came out at
the theaters. Any movie involving detectives set in the 1950s automatically
brings out the writer in me, as that period is also the one in which my
private eye Pat Maginess lives and works. Another big reason is that it
once again combines the double-whammy punch of director Martin Scorsese
and actor Leonardo DiCaprio that we saw in The Departed (2006). Well I
missed the movie at the theater. But I did, finally, managed to catch it
on Pay-Per-View on cable.
As I mentioned talking about The Departed, DiCaprio amazes me these
days, reminding me of the young Orson Welles. In Shutter Island he plays
a U.S. Marshal who with his partner is sent to investigate the disappearance
of a patient at a mental institution on a remote island. Ben Kinsley plays
the chief psychiatrist in the movie, a man committed to abolishing the
lobotomy and shock treatment methods common to the day and to following
a regimine that cures the patient by exorcising their psychological demons
— with a little thorazine thrown in.
And it all starts out in a straightforward manner. Except for constant
rain and a very creep looking hospital, we get in the opening what we
might suspect of a normal detective movie. But things quickly change.
Besides Kingsley we are introduced to another psychiatrist, played by
Max von Syndow (good to see him again). The setting is a wonderfully
decorated room dating from the Civil War era, complete with high backed
chairs, fine dining crystal, and music on the phonograph. "Nice music"
DiCaprio's partner says. "Who is that, Brahms?" "No, it's Mahler" DiCaprio
replies — drawing out the "a" Boston style, Maaaahler.
This movie evolves, one might say morphs itself. Within just a few minutes
we are given something that would not be unusual in one of Robert Altman's
more unusual films. And then about an hour through the movie things turn
totally Kafka-esque as DiCaprio enters into the mysterious Building C.
I liked the movie, it was great watching DiCaprio act and I like the scenic
design/art direction. My problem was with the ending. I won't give a spoiler
here, but let's just say here that the ending reminded me very much of David
Lynch's Mulholland Dr. (2001). Which of course was kind of disappointing,
seeing one movie that carries a finale similar to another one. I don't think
I would have taken that turn myself. I would have found a different ending
given the excellent set-up.
In any case I hope DiCaprio makes more of these retro-based movies. He is
great with these type roles. And he also looks great in a raincoat and fedora.